Ph.D. student Kimiko Nakajima named 2019-20 Mistletoe Research Fellow

uc davis materials science engineering mistletoe research fellow 2019
Third-year Ph.D. student Kimiko Nakajima (right) and Professor Ricardo Castro in the Nanoceramics Thermochemistry Lab. Photo: Reeta Asmai/UC Davis.

Third-year Ph.D. student Kimiko Nakajima has been named a 2019-20 Mistletoe Research Fellow by the Mistletoe Foundation. Over the 2019-20 academic year, she will receive $10,000 towards her research and collaborate with a hardware-based startup company on science and technology problems.

Nakajima is one of 36 fellows in the Mistletoe Foundation’s second cohort, which consists of postdoctoral scholars and Ph.D. students from the organization’s seven partner universities around the world, including UC Davis.

“This is one of those opportunities you only get as a grad student or postdoc,” she said

Nakajima, part of Professor Ricardo Castro’s group, studies nanoparticles used for lithium ion battery cathodes. Her goal is to design a highly stable cathode material by quantifying and tuning their interfacial surface energies, the measurement of a material’s stability. The more stable the nanoparticle, the less the battery degrades over time and the longer it will last. She will use her expertise to collaborate with DASH Systems, a company makes delivery drones that can be mounted and deployed from commercial aircrafts, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

She is excited to use the fellowship program to expand her horizons to the entrepreneurial world. She understands the value of meeting new people from different fields through her experiences in the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). As the chair of the student organization’s communications subcommittee, she has met materials researchers from around the world in a variety of industries, which opened her eyes to her many potential career paths.

“It has been eye-opening to go out there and meet people,” she said. “It made me feel good because I realized I had more options for my future career than I thought I did.”

Nakajima received her B.S. in Applied Chemistry at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. She plans to explore jobs in industry after she completes her Ph.D. and continue pushing herself to learn new things and apply her expertise in different ways.

“It’s the easiest way to change my perspective and it really encourages me to try new things,” she said.

The Mistletoe Research Fellowship is a hardware accelerator program aimed at building bridges between academia and the entrepreneurial world. The foundation believes these bridges will create new career opportunities, increase partnerships and collaborations and drive research innovation with a humanitarian impact.

The Mistletoe Foundation, a nonprofit spin-off of the venture capital firm Mistletoe, Inc., was founded in 2017 to connect academia and the startup community to, “create a more human-centered and sustainable future through technology.”

Read more about the program on the Mistletoe Foundation’s website.

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