Emma Kaeli Named 2015 Goldwater Scholar

Emma T Kaeli, an undergraduate in Chemical Engineering, has been named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar. Kaeli is a chemical engineer from Medway, MA. She has worked as a Gordon Scholar research assistant on breast cancer detection with Prof. Carey Rappaport and received a Scholars Independent Research Fellowship to carry out a project on increasing the efficiency of materials used in solar panels. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and continue her work on photovoltaic materials, which she believes are essential to address global needs for environmental sustainability and human development.

Kaeli is the daughter of ECE COE Distinguished Professor David Kaeli.

Source: News @ Northeastern

A self-​​described “ever learner,” second-​​year chem­ical engi­neering major Emma Kaeli has cul­ti­vated her pas­sion for research while at North­eastern, which has helped her realize her dream of improving mate­rials used in alter­na­tive technologies.

I find it so fas­ci­nating that you can change some­thing at the mol­e­c­ular level and it changes that something’s entire func­tion­ality,” said Kaeli, E’18. “It’s not about mechanics or physics, it’s about the chemistry.”

Kaeli’s most recent research, which focused on making solar panels more effi­cient, led to her being named a 2015–16 Gold­water Schol­ar­ship recip­ient. “It was a com­plete sur­prise,” Kaeli said. “I knew I had a devel­oped research plan, but I had seen so many great plans from other appli­cants that I was like, ‘There is no way they’ll pick me.’”

The Barry Gold­water Schol­ar­ship is a highly com­pet­i­tive, merit-​​based award for out­standing col­lege sopho­mores and juniors in math­e­matics, the nat­ural sci­ences, and engi­neering who are inter­ested in pur­suing research careers. Of 1,206 can­di­dates nation­wide, Kaeli was one of 260 stu­dents selected to receive the scholarship.

She was one of four North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents to apply for the Gold­water Schol­ar­ship. The other three—Jacob Barlow, E’17, Nicholas DePorzio, S’16, and Ben­jamin Moran, S’18—each earned hon­or­able men­tion, recog­ni­tion bestowed upon just 150 students.

Thanks to a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Scholars Inde­pen­dent Research Fel­low­ship, last fall Kaeli worked in the Inter­face Engi­neering Lab­o­ra­tory run by asso­ciate pro­fessor Katherine Ziemer,  in the Depart­ment of Chem­ical Engi­neering. Kaeli’s work focused on how to create a mate­rial that could take the heat solar panels gen­erate and turn that heat into electricity.

Solar panels are extremely inef­fi­cient espe­cially at high tem­per­a­tures because they over­heat,” Kaeli explained. “My goal is to make solar panels more afford­able, more effi­cient, and a more viable option for people who want to use alter­na­tive sources of energy.”

The pri­mary focus of her work in Ziemer’s lab was to grow mate­rials for inte­gra­tion onto solar panels—and she is plan­ning to use her schol­ar­ship money to fur­ther fund this project this fall.

Kaeli noted that this mate­rial would ide­ally be applied to other instru­ments that can lose energy through heat, such as a car engine. “The fact of the matter is we lose so much energy through heat,” Kaeli said. “If I were able to make some­thing that could rede­liver energy to a cir­cuit in some other way or make some­thing self gen­er­ating, that would be perfect.”

Kaeli is cur­rently on co-​​op at the Inno­va­tion Center of the Rogers Cor­po­ra­tion, a mate­rials man­u­fac­turer. There, she works with a wide berth of mate­rials and manip­u­lates them in every way imaginable.

I know I really like research, which I’ve been doing since high school,” Kaeli said. “So I wanted to try to find another aspect of research and the Rogers Cor­po­ra­tion gives me that. I feel like that is the point of co-​​op, to figure out what you want to do.”

Related Faculty: David Kaeli

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Gordon Engineering Leadership Program