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Conn Center director named as APAS Fellow

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

UofL Conn Center director Mahendra Sunkara, Ph.D. Photo courtesy of Speed School of Engineering/Ashly Cecil

Mahendra Sunkara, Ph.D., has been named as a Foreign Fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences. He is a professor of Chemical Engineering, Director of Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, and a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Louisville.

Sunkara is recognized for being engaged in a science and technology profession in a position of high responsibility and attaining eminence by virtue of his outstanding contributions in the field. He is one of only 5 Foreign Fellows admitted annually, having been nominated, supported and approved by the members of the Akademi.

The Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences was founded in 1963. It comprises distinguished scientists, engineers, technologists including medical fraternity covering the entire spectrum of science and technology disciplines. The aims and objectives of the Akademi are mainly the advancement of science in Andhra Pradesh by providing a forum for discussing scientific developments, propagating scientific knowledge among the people and publication of books and journals on science.

Sunkara received his B.Tech degree in Chemical Engineering from Andhra University in 1986. He earned his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University in 1988 and a Ph.D. in 1993 from Case Western Reserve University. He joined the faculty at University of Louisville in 1996, earning the rank of Professor in 2006. He was named director of Conn Center in 2009 and a Fellow of the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation in 2016.

As a native of the state of Andhra Pradesh, this recognition is especially significant for Sunkara. “Becoming a Fellow in the region where I come from, I feel privileged to be recognized for my talent and the impact of my work,” he said. Sunkara added that the region of Andhra Pradesh is turning out a lot of scientific scholars, so it’s more difficult to be recognized there. “It’s a pretty big honor for me,” he said.

Mahendra’s primary research is in the development of such renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as solar cells, lithium ion batteries, electrochromics, production of hydrogen from water, and process development for growing large crystals of diamond, gallium nitride, and bulk quantities of nanowires. He has published over 150 articles in refereed journals and four book chapters, and co-authored a book entitled “Inorganic Nanowires: Applications, Properties and Characterization. He holds over 25 U.S. patents.

He founded Advanced Energy Materials, LLC (AdEM) in 2010 to commercialize his technology on scalable manufacturing of nanowire-based materials for catalysts, batteries and absorbents. The company recently established commercial production facilities for advanced catalysts and adsorbents for removal of sulfur from diesel and fuels and hydrogenation applications around the world.

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