(Credit: ARPA-E / Risdon Photography.)


Stephen A. Fordham '15, a doctoral student in the Texas A&M University Department of Chemistry, is one of 100 students nationwide selected to participate in the 2016 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit this week in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored annual conference and technology showcase, which begins today (February 29) and runs through Wednesday (March 2), brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America's energy challenges in new and innovative ways. Now in its seventh year, the Summit offers a unique, three-day program aimed at moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.

The Student Program portion of the conference offers a unique opportunity for student energy leaders to engage with companies looking for new talent, as well as to learn about new energy initiatives. Each of the graduate-level students selected to participate receives complimentary registration to attend the Summit, takes part in student-focused panel sessions, and has the opportunity to network with corporate recruiters. The group represents a diverse mix of technical, scientific, business, and policy students from top institutions who are energy leaders on their campuses and have the goal of transitioning to professional careers in the energy sector.

Fordham says he is excited about this year's presentation slate, which includes Former Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, Senator Lisa Murkowski, BASF CEO Wayne T. Smith and a bevy of similarly distinguished names from both industry and government.

"This is an exciting opportunity to network with a variety of professionals engaged in bringing energy innovation to the global community," Fordham said. "I am looking forward to this opportunity and to updating my research colleagues and department on my experience once I return."

Fordham, who is on track to earn his doctorate later this year, has been a member since 2011 of Texas A&M chemist Hongcai Joe Zhou's research group, which specializes in the design of framework materials, including metal organic frameworks (MOFs). These very small, precisely arranged and highly porous structures have the highest internal surface area known to man and represent a rapidly developing field of materials chemistry. With just a tweak of their crystalline structure and properties, MOFs can be tailored to adsorb a variety of different types of molecules and are being tested for applications in fuel storage, emissions controls and drug delivery. Zhou currently has nine individual DOE grants, each exceeding $1 million, including two from ARPA-E.

Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Fordham earned his bachelor's of science in chemistry with minors in both mathematics and physics in 2010 from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala. He also gained nearly two years of industrial experience as an analytical chemist at Multimetco Inc. in Anniston, Ala., before arriving in Aggieland and joining the Zhou research group. For the past four years, he has served as both laboratory manager and safety coordinator, as well as grant research coordinator for the group's ARPA-E-funded Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) project.

A former president of the Graduate Student Association of Chemistry and delegate to the Texas A&M Graduate and Professional Student Council representing the Department of Chemistry, Fordham has received multiple awards, including the BASF Safety Champion Award, Dow Chemical Graduate Symposium Poster Award and Eastman Chemical Upper-level Laboratory Graduate Teaching Award. He also is an accomplished researcher with eight publications thus far focusing on MOF synthesis. He was selected as a keynote speaker at the Natural Gas and Hydrogen Symposium 2015 in Windsor, Canada, and has presented many talks and posters at various technical conferences, including the American Chemical Society National Meeting and the Natural Gas Vehicle Technology Forum.

To learn more about the 2016 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, visit http://www.arpae-summit.com/Home.

For additional information on Fordham and the Zhou research group, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/zhou/.

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About ARPA-E: The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) invests in transformational ideas to create America's future energy technologies. ARPA-E programs are created to address critical challenges in energy innovation, and ARPA-E-funded project teams receive hands-on guidance to meet ambitious milestones that push the boundaries of energy innovation and help move their technologies into the marketplace. For more information on ARPA-E and its innovative project portfolio, visit www.arpa-e.energy.gov.

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $866.6 million in fiscal year 2015. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development survey (2014), based on expenditures of more than $854 million in fiscal year 2014. Texas A&M's research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Hongcai Joe Zhou, (979) 845-4034 or zhou@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Stephen A. Fordham '15

  • A panel at the 2015 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. (Credit: ARPA-E / Risdon Photography.)

  • MOVE Project

    An illustration of a prototype 6-liter adsorbed natural gas (ANG) fuel tank that relies on innovative advanced porous materials and Texas A&M's proven expertise in metal-organic frameworks and porous-polymer networks to deliver low-pressure, high-density natural gas storage in vehicles as part of the Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) project overseen by Zhou Research Lab Manager Stephen Fordham '16.

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

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