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Risko Receives 2018 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award

photo of Chad Risko
Chad Risko, assistant professor of chemistry in the UK College of Arts and Sciences and researcher at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 7, 2018) — Chad Risko, an assistant professor of chemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences and researcher at the Center for Applied Energy Research, has been selected to receive a 2018 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Risko is one of 31 academic scientists at 22 institutions to receive the honor this year.

Risko’s research is inspired by complex synthetic materials and the desire to discover fundamental connections among the chemical and physical phenomena that determine their performance in a variety of applications, ranging from flexible electronics through power generation and storage. Risko’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award titled “Decoding Nucleation and Growth in Organic Semiconductor Films” will allow his team to probe how the chemical structure and processing conditions of organic semiconductors — used in technologies ranging from displays and lighting through solar cells and energy storage to bioelectronics — impacts their performance.

“Synthetic chemists are incredibly adept at the atomic-scale manipulation of the electronic, redox, and optical characteristics of molecules and polymers," Risko said. "How these molecular characteristics translate to macroscopic materials properties remains largely unknown, however, leaving materials development to mainly trial-and-error approaches. We aim to develop computational materials chemistry approaches that span these different scales so that we can provide guidance to the development of new generations of organic semiconductors."

“To meet the demand signal from the 2018 National Defense Strategy, we must attract the best and brightest minds to work on naval warfighting challenges," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. David Hahn. "The Young Investigator Program does just that, and I’m honored to announce the recipients for 2018. Since 1985, this program has attracted outstanding scientists and engineers from across academia to support our Navy and Marine Corps, and as we return to an era of great power competition, that is more important than ever before.”

Risko was also recently named a 2018 Cottrell Scholar.

"These two awards clearly show that Dr. Risko is among the best young chemistry investigators in the nation," said Mark Meier, chair of UK's Department of Chemistry. "We are proud to count him as a member of our team, and are thankful he is sharing his knowledge with students in our classrooms and through his laboratory work. 

"I think these awards help validate Dr. Risko's strategic recruitment to UK. The Department of Chemistry and UK's Center for Applied Energy Research crafted a plan to seek a new computation chemist to UK to strengthen our burgeoning organic materials group, and it is quite clear that Dr. Risko's expertise is paying dividends for all of us here at UK."