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  • 08/10/17

    Professor Frontiera receives DOE Early Career Research Program Award

Professor Renee R. Frontiera has received a Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Research Program award. This highly-competitive national award provides support to exceptional researchers.

The DOE Office of Science selected 50 researchers from across the nation to receive the award. The program, now in its eighth year, is designed to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. University-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 for five years for their research.

To be eligible for the DOE award, a researcher must be an untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professor at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at a DOE national laboratory, who received a doctorate within the past 10 years. 

Research focus

Frontiera’s research for the DOE focuses on understanding how molecular vibrations, or the wiggling and jiggling of atoms within a molecule, can be used to efficiently drive the conversion of solar energy into electrical or chemical energy. Her research group will investigate a range of organic crystalline materials in order to determine the mechanisms of processes including singlet fission, ultrafast charge transfer, and long-range charge transport. The work will make use of femtosecond stimulated Raman microscopy, a technique that is capable of probing molecular structure on a femtosecond time scale. The funds provided by the DOE should ultimately lead to results that guide rational design of highly efficient photovoltaic and photocatalytic systems by determining how, when, and where energy is lost during charge generation and transport. 

Frontiera's research group also works on super-resolution Raman microscopy as well as developing ultrafast spectroscopic probes of plasmonically-driven catalysis. Her research program has garnered interest in both academia and industry. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications in the top scientific journals, including Nature, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the Journal of American Chemistry Society, Nano Letters, and Physical Review Letters. Highly regarded in the scientific community, she has presented her research at national and international conferences, at universities, and to industrial partners.

“Renee’s cutting edge research is making a significant impact that this award nicely recognizes," said Professor William Tolman, Department of Chemistry chair. "We are very proud of her accomplishments and her exciting plans for future work!”

Professor Frontiera

Frontiera is now the recipient of four major federal grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, in addition to this award from the Department of Energy. She is also the recipient of a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Grant, was named a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for 2017-2019, and received a National Science Foundation CAREER award and National Institutes of Health MIRA award in 2016.

Frontiera joined the Department of Chemistry in 2013, and she holds a graduate appointment in chemical physics. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Chinese from Carleton College, and her doctorate in chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley. She was a post-doctoral researcher working with Professor Richard P. Van Duyne at Northwestern University, and also spend a year as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California-Berkeley.

Professor Renee Frontiera in her laser lab
Photo credit: Patrick O'Leary, University of Minnesota