By Constanze Ditterich and Noah Pflueger-Peters
Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Jeremy Mason joins the class of 2021 UC Davis Hellman Fellows. The unique Hellman Fellows Program helps promising assistant professors bridge the funding gap between start-up funding and securing competitive external grants.
“The award allows me to take a risk with research that I would otherwise not be able to do,” he said. “Especially as a young faculty member, there is considerable pressure to continue to do research within the same area, but the Hellman award makes me believe that the Hellman Foundation and UC Davis both recognize this and are taking action to help us explore new and emerging fields.”
A computational materials scientist, Mason develops theories, models and simulations to study and predict the behavior and properties of materials in different scenarios.
With his project, "Designing the Materials of Tomorrow: Simulations of Atomic Transport," he seeks to simulate the motion of atoms or molecules passing through a membrane. This could potentially aid the search for solid oxide fuel cells that convert chemical energy into electrical energy more efficiently and with fewer emissions than internal combustion engines. The award provides one year of graduate student support, which should be enough time to collect preliminary results and continue to apply for external funding in a new research area.
“The timing of the award is just right, acting as a bridge from my startup funds to securing longer-term funding,” he said.
After starting as a physics undergraduate at MIT, he then was drawn to the more tangible properties of matter and received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from MIT. Mason joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2017.
The Hellman family began the program in 1994 and has supported more than 1,500 junior faculty who are now tenured with track records of successful research. Each year, approximately ten early-career faculty are selected for this award, and recipients come together to meet with their fellow peers and the program officer from the Hellman family foundation at the traditional lunch of the fellows.