Chemistry professor receives grant extension to improve energy applications

Stephanie Brock
Professor Stephanie Brock

Professor Stephanie Brock was on a plane, returning from giving the keynote lecture at the Larock Undergraduate Research Symposium at U. C. Davis, her alma mater, when the email came through. It was from her program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the opening line read: "Every now and then, the solid-state materials chemistry program directors recommend an ongoing three-year project for extension for special creativity.

The NSF Special Creativity Award is designed to recognize its most creative investigators who are tackling research problems at the forefront of their fields. Recipients of the award receive an automatic two-year extension on their NSF grant and the freedom to either continue research along the same lines or propose a topic of their choosing, taking on more risk.

The extension was awarded for Brock's NSF single investigator grant, Transition Metal Pnictide Nanoparticles for Energy-Relevant Applications, and includes $340,000 in additional funds. The award recognizes her excellent research, productivity and impact in the area of materials synthesis and design for applications in solid-state refrigeration and energy storage.

Brock Research Group: *BRockStars*
Brock Research Group: *BRockStars*

During the extension period, Brock plans to focus efforts on developing new synthetic approaches to metastable materials – those that are not thermodynamically stable and cannot be easily predicted.

"So many of the functional materials we encounter today were discovered serendipitously," said Brock, "but it can be hard to justify exploratory synthesis because you cannot know what kind of functionality will be discovered, making the work high-risk, high-reward. The Special Creativity Extension gives us the time and resources we need to focus on open-ended materials discovery."

Stephanie Brock is a Professor of Chemistry at Wayne State University. She is a member of the WSU Academy of Scholars and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society (ACS). She is an NSF CAREER Awardee and presently serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Chemistry of Materials and the Inaugural Deputy Editor for the journal ACS Materials Au.

For more information on Professor Brock's research, visit

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