Douglas Kelley, new faculty member, brings expertise in liquid metal batteries

July 3, 2013

kelleyDouglas Kelley says he has gotten "great vibes" from everybody he's met at the University of Rochester, where he'll join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an assistant professor in time for the fall semester.
Count Department Chair John Lambropoulos among those who are excited to have Kelley aboard.
"We had more than 140 applications. Doug was our top candidate to fill the opening for an experimentalist (created by the retirement of Roger Gans)," Lambropoulos said. "We made an offer to our top candidate, and he accepted. That's great recognition for a relatively small department."
Kelley, who has a PhD in physics from the University of Maryland, comes to Rochester from MIT. He did a year of postdoctoral work there under Donald R. Sadoway, focusing on the measurement, simulation and control of mixing in liquid metal batteries.
"Mixing transports ions and therefore governs the performance and efficiency of liquid metal batteries,which could be a game-changing technology for renewable energy," Kelley explains.
He spent three years before that as a postdoctoral associate with Nicholas T. Ouellette at Yale University.
That breadth of postdoctoral experience was one of several factors that put Kelley atop the list of candidates, Lambropoulos said. Another: Kelley's research interests fit in nicely here. "There is ongoing work on batteries and energy storage devices here at the University of Rochester, so he will be coming to a thriving environment."
Kelley, who has a broad interest in understanding the dynamics of flows and the materials mixed in them, would also like to focus on how this can be applied to climate change -- for example, how phytoplankton growth in ocean flows can drive climate. That, too, could be an area for collaboration with other UR faculty.
"These are important issues that we're going to be dealing with for the next 50 years, maybe more," Lambropoulos notes.
Kelley's strong publication record and his extensive teaching experience as a grad student and postdoc were also positives, Lambropoulos added. "I think he will make the transition into the teaching part of his job very naturally."
Lambropoulos said he also was impressed with Kelley's commitment to involving undergraduates in his research."That is a great sign of a committed teacher."
Kelley says he was drawn to the University of Rochester in part because "the opportunities to do great research are really compelling." The Hajim School, in particular, "sits in an interesting position," he added. "On the one hand it's integrated within a university that values broad education and upholds scholarship for its own sake. Simultaneously, the school embraces engineering and maintains close ties to industry. It's a great balance for students, and I'm excited to be part of it."