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Two Materials Science Doctoral Students Receive Fellowships

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 12:26 pm / October 3, 2016

Two doctoral students enrolled in Boise State University’s Ph.D. in materials science program have received experiential learning fellowships.

Steve Letourneau was awarded the Department of Energy Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award and Robin McCown was selected to receive the Chateaubriand Fellowship from the Office of Science Technology at the Embassy of France in the United States.

“The Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering is thrilled to support Steven and Robin as they pursue these exciting opportunities,” said Jessica Economy, academic programs manager for the school. “External research experiences are one of the many ways that students in our programs can diversify their research experience and network as we strive to create a learning environment that helps prepare each student to achieve his or her goals, both now and in the future.”

Steve LeTourneau

Steve Letourneau and a young girl in the lab.

Steve Letourneau explains an atomic force microscopy image.

The SCGSR program prepares graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission by providing thesis research opportunities at DOE laboratories. Letourneau will work with Jeffrey Elam at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois, on a project titled “Atomic Layer Deposition of Molybdenum Disulfide.” The award period is from Nov. 28, 2016, to Nov. 27, 2017.

The award will allow Letourneau to accelerate his research in atomic layer deposition of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides. “Argonne National Lab is world renowned, where top scientists lead high-level research across many scientific disciplines,” he said. “Having the ability to conduct my graduate research in this environment makes it an invaluable experience in my career.”

Robin McCown

As one of 50 recipients of the Chateaubriand Fellowship, McCown will attend the Université de Montpellier in France, where she will work with world-renowned scientist Eric Tournié. Her award period is from May through September.

Robin McCown works with a molecular beam epitaxy system.

Robin McCown, center, checks out Boise State’s molecular beam epitaxy system with grad student Christopher Schuck and faculty advisor Paul Simmonds.

“I will be working on the growth technique I also am using in my work with Dr. Paul Simmonds at Boise State,” McCown said. “We hope to create new semiconductors involving tensile-strained quantum dots with tunable band gaps that should have unique optical and electronic properties. This will allow the creation of devices with possible applications in many areas including solar technology, quantum computing, infrared sensing and thermoelectrics.”

A quantum dot (or Q dot) is a nano-sized particle that can be embedded into cells or organisms for various purposes.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for Robin to work with one of the leading groups in the world studying low band gap semiconductors,” said Simmonds. “I have no doubt that the skills and expertise Robin develops in Dr. Tournié’s lab will be enormously beneficial for both her Ph.D. research and her future career.