Chibueze Amanchukwu receives 3M Nontenured Faculty Award

Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering, has received a 3M Nontenured Faculty Award. The award recognizes outstanding new faculty for their research, experience, and academic leadership.

“I just started in January of 2020—definitely not an easy year to start a new career—and this is the first external award we’ve gotten as a new group, so it means a lot,” Amanchukwu said. “It’s really exciting and reinvigorating to have outside entities invest in the novel ideas we have in the battery and electrolyte space.”

The 3M Nontenured Faculty Award was created over twenty-five years ago by 3M’s Technical Community in partnership with 3Mgives’s Giving Program to invest in individuals who will lead university teaching and research programs in the future. The intent is to provide unrestricted financial support to help promising faculty receive tenure and contribute to their academic field.

Amanchukwu’s research focuses on energy storage and electrocatalytic devices. His team combines data science, first-principles calculations, chemical synthesis, and novel characterization tools to improve energy density, stability, and affordability in next-generation batteries and electrocatalytic devices.

It’s Amanchukwu’s hope that with more efficient batteries, he and his team can help address issues stemming from climate change, issues that he and his family have felt personally.

“I lived through Hurricane Harvey in Houston. My family suffered through the winter storm that affected Texas in February of this year. I lived in California for two and half years and each summer was a fire season threat,” Amanchukwu said. “But as I lived through that—and I’m fortunate to still have a job and a home—I realized that not everyone is as fortunate. So it became more about putting my work in the greater context of the world.

“As someone from Nigeria, I realized that any technology we make needs to be relevant to people back home so that we are all fighting to solve climate change problems and not leaving anyone behind.”

Amanchukwu will use the $45,000 award (given over three years) to seed new research endeavors, primarily designing, synthesizing, and characterizing electrolytes for lithium batteries, as well as provide professional development opportunities for his students.