Scott Cushing, assistant professor of chemistry at Caltech has been named a 2022 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).
Cushing’s research is focused on developing laser-based instrumentation for chemistry, physics, biology, and material research. He intends to use his award funding to study the movement of electrons and ions through materials on very short timescales, with an eye on helping advance new battery technologies. According to Caltech, he also plans to build a year-round mentorship network that pairs Caltech graduate students with undergraduates at minority-serving institutions in the greater Los Angeles area.
"I am thrilled to be able to include and improve our diversity effort implementations within the Cottrell Scholars program family," Cushing says. "Our Caltech Connection program at Caltech connects undergraduate students at local minority-serving institutes with year-round graduate student mentorship to encourage scientific careers and participation in summer research programs. Funds from this grant will be used to expand the initial pilot program at Charles Drew University, a local HBCU, to Compton College and Pasadena City College."
Cushing earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees, both in physics, from West Virginia University Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2011 and 2015, respectively. He worked with Alan Bristow, his advisor during graduate school, on novel quantum mechanical interactions in nanoparticles to improve photocatalysis and make parallels to photosynthesis. He also worked with Nick Wu, formerly in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as an undergraduate. Earl Scime, chair of physics at the time, fondly remembers Cushing as a brilliant student in class.
He joins a network of WVU Physics and Astronomy faculty who are also Cottrell Scholars including Edward Flagg, Duncan Lorimer, Maura McLaughlin, Mohindar Seehra and Weichao Tu.
The Cottrell Scholar Awards have been awarded by RCSA since 1994 and recognize early-career individuals for innovative research and teaching excellence. The awards are named after Frederick Gardner Cottrell, an inventor and philanthropist who founded in 1912 the organization that came to be known as RCSA.