Jaime Ayala ’22, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) as a 2021 Innovation in Buildings (IBUILD) Graduate Research Fellow.
Ayala is one of nine inaugural IBUILD Fellows announced by the DOE earlier this month as part of a BTO program launched last September to strengthen the pool of well-trained, diverse graduate students properly equipped for research-intensive careers in fields supporting energy efficiency in buildings. IBUILD Fellows receive financial support to conduct innovative research at their home institution in an area with demonstrated relevance to building energy efficiency. The fellowship also provides opportunities for professional development outside the home institution, including mentoring and internships at national labs and networking with BTO and other IBUILD Fellows.
Ayala earned selection on the basis of his research as a member of Texas A&M chemist Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee’s laboratory. His IBUILD Fellow proposal, “Dynamically Switchable Thermochromic Fenestration Elements Incorporating Nanostructure Vanadium Oxides for Retrofitting Applications: Strategies Towards Haze Reduction and Full-Spectrum Modulation,” focuses on using nanostructured vanadium oxides to “retrofit” thermochromic switching capability onto existing windows, allowing them to selectively control solar heat gains.
For Ayala, the ultimate goal is a substantial reduction in the energy consumption and carbon footprint of buildings.
“The IBUILD Fellowship from the Department of Energy brings a focus to research aimed at lowering the amount of building energy usage,” Ayala said. “This provides a great opportunity for taking a step towards making a difference, and I am extremely honored to be a part of the inaugural cohort for this fellowship.”
Ayala plans to collaborate extensively with Dr. Robert Tenent at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as well as with various industrial partners in the fenestration and vanadium industries.
“Jaime’s proposal outlines an approach to a technology problem that is incisive and founded in clear scientific hypotheses,” said Banerjee, a Davidson Chair in Science and 2019 Chancellor EDGES Fellow. “He has been unabashed about reaching out to potential collaborators and has been designing elegant methods for alloying vanadium oxide nanocrystals.”
Ayala earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2018, graduating with cum laude honors as a first-generation student. He then served as both a researcher and teaching assistant at UTEP prior to coming to Texas A&M in fall 2020 to pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry as a member of the Banerjee research group. He currently plays soccer in the Bryan-College Station Soccer League and says he hopes to become involved with the Graduate Student Association of Chemistry in the near future.
“While I have known Jaime for just over a year, his journey in science is an inspiration to me,” Banerjee said. “He has persisted in STEM despite long odds, driven by nothing short of an incredible passion for renewable energy and energy conservation, a burning desire to be a role model to his community, and a deep wellspring of taking joy in discovery. He is an incredibly talented, creative and utterly tenacious young scientist with a boundless commitment to and passion for research.”
The IBUILD Fellowship Program is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest of the DOE’s science and engineering laboratories, and administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) on behalf of the DOE Building Technologies Office.
To learn more about the Banerjee research group and projects underway within the lab, go to https://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/banerjee/.
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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Jaime R. Ayala, (979) 458-2816 or email@example.com; or Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee, (979) 862-3102 or firstname.lastname@example.org