Admitted students get first look at Pritzker Molecular Engineering

For the second time this Spring, newly admitted students from around the world will have the opportunity to converge at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) to immerse themselves in big ideas — at a very small scale.

The second admitted students’ weekend of 2022 is being held in-person March 11 and 12, offering incoming students a first-hand look at Pritzker Molecular Engineering’s innovative faculty and research. Attendees will learn about PME’s distinct research ecosystem, its partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, and the school’s robust mentorship and career programs. They also will engage directly with researchers working at the forefront of their field.

Both days will conclude with dinner and a guided night out in the city, giving students a chance to explore Chicago beyond the University campus.

The first admitted students’ weekend was held virtually Feb 10 and 11. Students had the option to attend either the virtual event, the in-person event, or both.

Matthew Tirrell, dean of PME, and Aaron Esser-Kahn, associate professor of molecular engineering, will open the upcoming weekend, welcoming students and sharing an overview of the graduate program.

“In joining PME, our students become an integral part of pushing the boundaries of engineering and affecting tangible change,” Tirrell said. “Each student that’s admitted to PME brings with them valued perspective and knowledge, creating a dynamic culture of students, postdocs, and faculty all pursuing meaningful work.”

Representatives from each of PME’s research themes will speak, including Shuolong Yang, assistant professor of molecular engineering, who will highlight groundbreaking work in quantum engineering. Yang is attempting to develop a wholly new type of superconductor by harnessing one of physics’ most intriguing phenomena — Majorana fermions, also known as “angel” particles. Yang is equally committed to educating and mentoring the next generation of quantum engineers.

“Materials are the driving force behind future technologies — they fuel frontier science,” Yang said. “These new materials will form the foundations of future technologies and future economies, so it’s critical that we train the next generation of leaders and experts in the field. As a scientist, I believe it’s my duty to provide that education to as many people as I can.”

Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering, specializes in electrolyte design for next-generation batteries, which he will discuss with students. His research most recently earned him the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award.

Jun Huang, assistant professor of molecular engineering, will delve into immunoengineering. Huang’s work centers on untangling and re-engineering the human immune system to beat some of humanity’s most persistent diseases. Huang’s work on coronavirus nanotraps has been featured prominently in the news media.

“I want to cure cancer and HIV – two major diseases we cannot conquer yet,” Huang said. “Most people would naturally think they are very different diseases, but from our perspective, there is a common link. Our work on T-cell might reveal a way to treat both diseases despite their distinct natures.”

As the only school of its kind in the nation, PME faculty and students engage in research that promises to make a lasting impact. In the academic realm or private industry, the school offers a wide range of programs to help students translate their research into careers after graduation. PME partners across the university and beyond, engaging startup support through the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and broader career guidance through myCHOICE. PME also hosts regular industry speakers through its Industry Seminar Series and provides science communication training to help students connect with broader audiences.

“Our mission is to engage and train researchers who are driven and forward-thinking, who are eager to explore innovative solutions to the many challenges facing the world today,” said Esser-Kahn. “Being admitted to PME means you have the potential to be a force for positive change, and by attending PME we are confident you will learn the tools needed to effect that change.”

More information can be found in the guide for newly admitted students. Additional information on PME and UChicago can be found in the sidebar.