Newswise — Pennington, NJ – Prof. Dr. Shoji Hall, Prof. Dr. Piran Ravichandran Kidambi, and Dr. Haegyeom Kim have been awarded the 2020-2021 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowships. This is the sixth year that the fellowships—a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.—have been awarded. Through this program, ECS and Toyota promote innovative and unconventional technologies borne from electrochemical research. The fellowship encourages young professors and scholars to pursue innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology. The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee reviewed 43 applications for the 2020-2021 program.


The 2020-2021 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellows

Prof. Dr. Shoji HallJohns Hopkins University “Engineering of Electrified Platinum/Ionic Liquid Interfaces Enable High Performance Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalysis”

Bio: Anthony Shoji Hall is Assistant Professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He received his BS in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2010, followed by a PhD in chemistry from Penn State University in 2014. Hall was a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Chemistry Department before joining John Hopkins University. There, the Hall research group focuses on interrogating the structure-property relationships of electrocatalytic materials, and the room temperature synthesis of nanostructured ordered intermetallic compounds.

Abstract: This proposal aims to interrogate the catalyst-ionic liquid interface of fuel cell cathodes with surface-enhanced in-situ infrared absorption spectroscopy (SEIRAS). Fundamental insights will shed light on the promotional effects of ionic liquids for fuel cells, allowing for the rational design of high-performance fuel cells.


Prof. Dr. Piran Ravichandran Kidambi, Vanderbilt University “Atomically Thin Membranes for Advanced Next-Generation Fuel Cells”

Bio: Piran Kidambi is Assistant Professor at the Vanderbilt University Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (since 2017). After receiving his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014, he pursued postdoctoral research at MIT through the Lindemann Trust Fellowship. Kidambi’s research at Vanderbilt was recognized by the NSF (National Science Foundation) CAREER award (2020), American Chemical Society PRF Doctoral New Investigator (2018), Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2018), and other awards. He has served on the US National Graphene Association Academic Council since 2019 and is a guest editor for MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) Nanomaterials

Abstract: Kidambi’s research leverages the intersection between (i) in-situ metrology, (ii) process engineering, and (iii) material synthesis, to enable bottom-up novel materials design and synthesis for energy, membranes, electronics, catalysis, metrology, environmental protection, and healthcare applications. This project aims to advance atomically thin membranes for next-generation fuel cells and help alleviate the transportation industry’s three main challenges: (1) finding a replacement energy source for oil, (2) reducing CO2 emissions, and (3) preventing air pollution.


Dr. Haegyeom KimLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Development of new nitrides-based lithium conductors for all-solid-state batteries”

Bio: Haegyeom Kim received his BS from the Hanyang University Department of Materials Science and Engineering (Korea) in 2009, and his MS from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in 2011. There he worked on graphene-based hybrid electrodes for lithium rechargeable batteries. Kim received his PhD from Seoul National University in 2015. His doctoral work, supervised by Prof. Kisuk Kang, focused on graphite derivatives for Li and Na rechargeable batteries. Following a postdoc at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Prof. Gerbrand Ceder’s group, he became a staff scientist in the Berkeley Lab Materials Sciences Division (early 2019). 

Kim’s research focuses on the development of novel functional materials for energy storage and conversion applications, investigation of underlying energy storage/conversion mechanisms, and synthesis mechanisms of inorganic materials. He has published more than 65 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Kim’s papers have been cited over 8,400 times and his H-index is 42 (Google Scholar). He received the ECS Colin Garfield Fink Summer Fellowship, ECS Battery Division Postdoctoral Associate Research Award, ECS Energy Technology Division Graduate Student Award, ECS Korea Section Student Award, The Best Graduate Thesis Award of Seoul National University, and 2019 Highly Cited Researcher (Cross-field), Web of Science.

Abstract:  Dr. Kim will conduct combined computations and experiments to develop new nitride-based solid-state electrolytes (SSEs) with high Li diffusivity, wide electrochemical stability window (both for reduction and oxidation). Specifically, Dr. Kim will (i) screen Li-nitride electrolyte candidates using simulation tools developed from high-throughput computations, (ii) validate the selected candidates by experiments, and (iii) test their practical use as Li-SSEs by building a symmetric cell for Li cycling.


2020-2021 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowships

Fellowship recipients receive a $50,000 grant to conduct the research outlined in their proposals, and a one-year complimentary ECS membership. After one year of funding, recipients submit a midway progress report and a final written report. Recipients are invited semiannually to present their research progress at TRINA.

In addition, recipients publish their findings in a relevant ECS journal using the open access option, and/or present at an ECS meeting within 24 months of the end of the research period.

At the end of the fellowship period, depending on the progress of their research and the results obtained, Toyota may elect to enter into a research agreement with the recipient so their research can continue.


Special thanks to the 2020-2021 subcommittee members:


About ECS

ECS, an international nonprofit professional organization, has led the world in electrochemistry and solid state science and associated technologies since 1902. ECS advances scientific theory and practice by publishing papers, hosting meetings, fostering training and education, and cooperating with other organizations. Our 8,000+ members in 85+ countries produce research solutions to the planet’s major challenges. ECS and IOP Publishing (ECS Digital Library’s host) have over 200 years of experience in excellence in scientific publishing. Thousands of scientists, engineers, and industry leaders share the latest scientific and technical developments, exchange ideas, network, and expand their research horizons at ECS biannual, co-hosted, and sponsored meetings.


About Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric of the U.S. and North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 40 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.)and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2019.

Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit