Elizabeth BiddingerLithium-ion batteries play a major role in our everyday lives; they’re in our cell phones, solar panels, tablets, cars, and medical devices, to name a few. All these modern technologies are made possible because of batteries. Yet, they’re far from perfect. The Samsung Note 7 self-combusted on nightstands and planes in 2016, injuring customers and causing second-degree burns in one Florida man. Not to mention, the hoverboard’s explosion around the same time, causing a recall of roughly 16,000 hoverboards.

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The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America, a division of Toyota Motor North America, is in its fourth year. The fellowship aims to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.

2018-2019 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellows


Professor Kimberly See
, California Institute of Technology
ECS Battery Division
“Structural Distortions in Multi-Electron Cathodes for High Capacity Batteries”


Professor Iryna Zenyuk
, University of California, Irvine
ECS Energy Technology Division
“Addressing the Activation Overpotential in Fuel Cell Cathodes”

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ToyotaThe ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship kicked off in 2014, establishing a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America, aimed at funding young scholars pursuing innovative research in green energy technology.

The proposal deadline for the year’s fellowship is Jan. 31, 2017. Apply now!

While you put together your proposals, check out what Patrick Cappillino, one of the fellowship’s inaugural winners, says about his experience with the fellowship and the opportunities it presented.


The Electrochemical Society: Your proposed topic for the ECS Young Investigator Toyota Fellowship was “Mushroom-derived Natural Products as Flow Battery Electrolytes.” What inspired that work?

Patrick Cappillino: This research was inspired by a conversation with a colleague. I was relating the problem of redox instability in flow battery electrolytes. He told me his doctoral work had focused on an interesting molecule called Amavadin, produced by mushrooms, that was extremely stable and easy to make. The lightbulb really went off when we noticed that the starting material was the decomposition product of another flow battery electrolyte that has problems with instability.

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Toyota Fellowships Paying Off

ToyotaStarting in 2014, ECS partnered with Toyota Research Institute of North America to establish a fellowship for young researchers working in green energy technology, including efforts to find viable alternative energy sources as a replacement for oil, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and prevent air pollution.

The proposal submission deadline for the 2017-2018 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is Jan. 31, 2017. As we gear up for the third year of fellowship, ECS is checking in with two of the inaugural winners.

Methane to methanol conversion with Yogesh Surendranath

Yogesh Surendranath, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of the inaugural fellowship winners for his work in methane to methanol conversion.

“For a young investigator, this fellowship gives a greater visibility to research efforts and provides a degree of freedom,” Surendranath says. “Junior faculty members, while they are at the time in their careers where they are most likely to take on challenging problems, are at the very same time finding funding challenging. The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship provided us that freedom to tackle new and interesting areas.”

The proposed research that ultimately won Surendranath and his group a $50,000 grant is called, “Methanol Electrosynthesis at Carbon-Supported Molecular Active Sites.”

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ecs_toyota
The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive $50,000 each for the inaugural fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Patrick Cappillino, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Professor Yogesh (Yogi) Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor David Go, University of Notre Dame

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), launched the inaugural ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship about six months ago. More than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

“The science of electrochemistry can help provide solutions for daunting challenges, like the need to transition to a less carbon intensive economy,” says ECS Executive Director Roque Calvo. “ECS was thrilled to partner with Toyota on this program and congratulates our three inaugural fellows.”

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship aims to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.

(more…)