Scholar Spotlight: Chibueze Amanchukwu

Assistant Professor
University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

2018 SSMN Conference Travel Winner
2019 SSMN Conference Travel Winner

2020 AI + Science seed grant recipient from UChicago’s Office of Research and National Laboratories Joint Task Force Initiative

Sloan Scholar PhD in Chemical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chibueze Amanchukwu won the 2020 AI+ Science Seed grant for his team’s work in Artificially Intelligent Electrochemistry. Visit the website for the Amanchukwu Lab: Frontiers in Electro(lyte)chemistry here.

What is your area of research? And how did you become interested in this research?

My area of research is on energy sustainability. My work is focused on studying ion transport in electrolytes and correlating ion solvation to electrochemical phenomena at the electrode/electrolyte interface in batteries and electrocatalysis. Insights gained from my work can allow us to develop batteries that store more energy and can last longer. Also, our work will reveal efficient electrocatalytic means to transform waste products such as carbon dioxide to valuable fuels. I became interested in this research after a summer internship at DuPont (sponsored by the GEM Fellowship), where I was exposed to the world of batteries and electrochemistry.

Aside from research, how do you connect with students (undergraduate and graduate) on your campus, especially now during COVID-19?

The pandemic has certainly brought on many challenges with human interaction. Apart from research, my students and I have game nights on Zoom every other week where we play video games, board games etc.

Those moments allow us to banter and brings us closer despite the physical separation.




You are also a two-time SSMN conference travel grant winner. How has winning these grants impacted your career development?

The first SSMN conference travel grant award in 2018 allowed me to attend the 2018 Fall AIChE National Conference when I was on the faculty job market. That conference was pivotal as it allowed me to interact with faculty search committees as well as meet faculty members who would eventually interview me. At that conference, I was able to present two different talks as well as a poster to faculty and student alike. The 2019 grant allowed me to attend the 2019 Fall AIChE conference where I focused on networking and interacting with program officers at different funding agencies.

What do you wish you had known before entering the job market as a postdoc?

It really is not about what you have done, but about your promise and what (the department believes) you can do in the future. I have found that confusing because how can one be defined more by what they would do, but not what they have done?

They are looking for mature candidates who dream big and can define their own path.

Congratulations on your 2020 Journal of the American Chemical Society publications! We’d love to hear if you celebrated, and if so, how?

Thanks! I actually can’t remember how I celebrated. I have always been a fan of JACS and its long history. I am sure I ate some cookies and constantly clicked through the JACS website to see when it would be publicly available.

Edited by Selena Rodriguez




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