Ryan Lively, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, has won a 2017 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation.
The CAREER Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Lively’s research program focuses on creating membranes capable of separating similarly-sized organic molecules that are critical in the manufacturing of fuels, polymers, and chemicals. Separations are a major part of the world’s primary energy budget: up to five to 10 percent of all energy use worldwide is devoted to chemical separations. Advanced membrane separators—based on molecular-scale resolution between small molecules—are at least 10 times more efficient than existing separation processes, opening the possibility of offsetting a substantial fraction of global energy use by bringing new technology to this world-scale problem.
Lively’s award, including $500,000 over five years, will provide support for his research seeking to understand the fundamental principles of “organic solvent reverse osmosis,” a process that has the potential to drastically drive down energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with organic chemical manufacturing.
Specifically, he will focus on increasing scientific understanding of how organic solvent molecules interact and diffuse through microporous materials such as polymers, carbons, and metal-organic frameworks. With this foundational basis, his team will design membrane materials capable of separating complex fluids found in chemicals manufacturing.
In addition to funding research activities, the NSF CAREER Award also supports Lively’s educational outreach plans. The educational and outreach aspects of the work will be focused on the development of an integrated framework to increase both interest and retention of under-represent students in STEM, specifically by developing modular demonstrations that can be easily utilized and adopted by instructors throughout the country, among other approaches.
Along with the CAREER Award, Lively has won the 2013 NSF BRIGE Award, the 2016 CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and the 2017 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.
Lively joined the faculty of the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 2013.