2024 Tripathy Memorial Endowed Graduate Fellowship Award Recipients

2024 Graduate Fellowship Award recipients Sourabh Kulkarni and Shayesteh Tafazoli pose in an office.
Award winners: Sourabh Kulkarni (left) and Shayesteh Tafazoli (right).

The Tripathy Memorial is proud to present the 2024 Tripathy Memorial Endowed Graduate Fellowship Award to Shayesteh Tafazoli and Sourabh Kulkarni. These senior graduate students have presented outstanding work in their dedicated research areas and continue to push the boundaries of science, engineering, and knowledge. Highlighted below are the summaries to their research. Congratulations to these remarkable students!

Shayesteh Tafazoli

Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry
Advisor: James Reuther
Research Topic for Ph.D. Degree: Advancing Water Filtration Technologies with Targeted Impurity Removal, Prioritizing Micro-and-Nanoplastics

This project is deeply rooted in the field of material science, focusing on synthesizing innovative products aimed at enhancing current water filtration systems. If awarded this fellowship, the subsequent steps will involve conducting a comprehensive assessment of the simultaneous removal efficiency of microplastics and nanoplastics, particularly in the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroocatane sulfonic acid (PFOS). Additionally, there will be a detailed evaluation of removal efficacy in diverse environments, including seawater and varying pH conditions. Furthermore, the project will delve into exploring the sustainability and regenerative properties of these innovative gels through several cycles of use. Lastly, contingent upon available resources, there will be an investigation into natural occurrences of microplastics and nanoplastics in environmental samples to inform further research and development endeavors.

Sourabh Kulkarni

Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Professor Ertan Agar
Research Topic for Ph.D. Degree: Flame Retardant and Multifunctional Fabrics Enabled by Bio-Inspired Materials

Confirmation of covalent attachment of phosphorus containing flame retardant agents will be carried out via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The effect of FR treatment and regeneration of FR activity (by washing in mild acid) on the mechanical properties of the fabrics will be evaluated. The number of cycles for which regeneration can be performed without damaging the mechanical integrity of the fabric will also be established. The mechanism of flame-retardant action of regenerated FR cotton via evolved gas analysis will be carried out to understand the effect of ammonium ions (NH4+) in the FR system. Alongside this, a process to laminate the FR-treated cotton with a thermally thin layer of polyurethane film will be explored to improve the laundry durability of the fabrics. It is envisioned that this process could potentially prevent the ion exchange without blocking the pores of fabric to ensure that the fabric remains comfortable to wear. The current non-flame-retardant version of uniforms used by the US Army (Army combat uniforms ACU) and the US Navy (Marine Corps combat utility uniform MCCUU) are made from Nyco, a blend consisting of 50% nylon 66 and 50% cotton. A method to impart FR properties to nyco using phosphoric acid will be also developed. The process of regeneration of FR properties will be then applied to FR nyco fabrics.

Members of the Selection Committee and recipients of the 2024 Graduate Fellowship award pose in a UMass Lowell office.

Pictured left to right: Ertan Agar, Sourabh Kulkarni, Jayant Kumar, Ashok Cholli, Shayesten Tafazoli, Susan Tripathy, Paul Bryce, and Ramaswamy Nagarajan.

The Selection Committee