Q: What are your current research interests?
My research interests and specialization lies in the development and application of advanced theoretical methods and computational approaches to unravel structure-property-performance relationships in solid state materials that are of interest for many applications in renewable energy generation, including but not limited photovoltaics, heterogeneous catalysis, high-capacity battery anode materials, environmental remediation, and critical minerals extraction. My goal is to harness the predictive capacity of first-principles calculations to gain detailed understanding of the fundamental science to engineer and rationally design new functional materials with unparalleled performance.
Q: What lead you to your specific field and when did you know you wanted to pursue a career in your specific field?
I came to understand during my Master’s degree that our standard of living today has been largely determined by past discoveries of “new” materials, and our future prosperity will depend to a large extent on the fruits of contemporary research into even newer materials and innovative processing routes. I have seen the negative impacts of lack of energy (electricity) as a child growing up in rural communities in Ghana. This is why most of my research is aimed at renewable energy generation and storage, helping in the push for net zero emissions, which is a big motivation.
Q: What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
The supply of green and sustainable energy is one of the greatest challenges of our time and it is very hot research topic both literally and metaphorically. Breakthroughs in green technologies requires the advances in the fundamental science and engineering of materials and minerals (discovery, rational design, synthesis, and optimisation). We are at the threshold of a new era where predictive modeling is transforming our ability to design new materials and chemical processes. Simulation-based engineering and science offers a significant opportunity to increase industrial competitiveness by reducing design times, accelerating the development and incorporation of new materials and processes, and minimizing testing requirements.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your work and what challenges you?
As a researcher, finding new insights into functional materials of practical application relevance is really rewarding, especially if you are the first person to know it! That is what science is about – pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. As a teacher/mentor, it is rewarding to see the young minds you’ve educated and inspired grow up and make a difference in the world. I also find it very rewarding when I am able to engage with and test my ideals with distinguished scholars across the world.
Q: Describe your teaching philosophy or teaching style.
My teaching philosophy is that great teachers are not just people who transmit information, teach skills, and help students earn the best grades, but they are those who share their passion for knowledge and curiosity with their students, inspire the students’ creativity, develop their critical thinking ability, and prepare them for the complex world they will face after completing their studies. The key components of my teaching strategies are: (a) establishing a positive rapport with my students, (b) delivering well-organized lectures with a clear sense of direction, (c) demonstrating with real-world applications, and (d) motivating my students to give their best efforts.
Q: What do you hope students take with them from your classes?
I always strive to epitomize the quote that “education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten”. It is always my goal that my students will gain the fundamental understanding of the core concepts of the subjects I teach and are able to creatively apply their classroom knowledge/experience to solve real-world problems. This is why I strive to expose my students to examples of emerging renewable energy technologies that can help them develop their critical thinking ability and translate their talents into creativity.
Q: What keeps you going as an educator/researcher?
Albert Einstein once said "A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving." This is exactly what keeps going as an educator/researcher. I want to make a materials difference in renewable energy technologies, I want to train a new generation of materials and mineral scientists and engineers.
STUDENT RECRUITMENT What makes the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences unique and why come to Penn State and choose a major in EMS? Penn State is a world class academic powerhouse and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences offers a multidiscipli
Q: What makes the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences unique and why come to Penn State and choose a major in EMS?
Penn State is a world class academic powerhouse and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences offers a multidisciplinary and vibrant research environment for both students and faculties to thrive.
Q: Why should students choose a major in your field?
Pursuing a major in renewable energy engineering is great endeavor. The necessity to develop low-carbon energy sources represents not only an awesome technological and engineering challenge, but also an equally large economic opportunity in a trillion-dollar energy market. Worldwide employment in renewable energy was estimated at 12 million in 2020, up from 11.5 million in 2019.
Q: What do you like most about mentoring students?
Students come as with considerable amount of talents and my role as a mentor to help them translate these talents into creativity. I enjoy mentoring students because it helps to produce a new generation of creative minds and engineers who can make a real difference in the world.
Q: What advice would you like to share with incoming or current students?
Explore the topics and subjects that interest you and don’t be afraid to really delve in. Think of the next step. Keep your focus on what you want to be doing four years from now. But, don’t just think — think big! As Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir (people’s) blood.” I use his exhortation to apply to my personal plans, and so should you.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to spend my free time (outside of work) on my family -playing with and teaching my children. I also enjoy reading, writing, listening to music and exercising as hobbies.
Q: Growing up, what did you want to be?
Growing up, I wanted to become an econometrician because of my love for mathematics and statistics. Although, I didn’t become that, it has laid a solid foundation to what I have become now, computational materials scientist, where I still employ applied mathematics, computer science, machine learning towards the rational design of new materials.
Q: Who has influenced you the most in life and why?
My Grandma, of blessed memory. She instilled in me the virtues of the fear of the Lord, hard work, honesty, integrity and pursuit of the excellence. She really instilled in me that I could attain whatever I worked hard enough on.
Q: If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
That person would definitely be Jesus Christ! I just want to be in His presence and to gaze upon His beauty.