GEM Conference Technical Presentation Prize

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Yessica Nelson

Yessica Nelson, a fourth-year inorganic chemistry graduate student from the Spokoyny group, received the first prize in the technical presentation competition for advanced Ph.D. students at the 47th Annual Board Meeting and Conference of the National GEM Consortium (GEM) held in Philadelphia on September 14-16, 2023.

Founded in 1976 at the University of Notre Dame, GEM has since been committed to enhancing the nation’s human capital. Through its efforts, the consortium has contributed to the graduation of over 4,000 professionals, including researchers, professors, entrepreneurs, inventors, and business leaders. Among these, over 200 individuals have earned doctorates in the fields of physical sciences, life sciences, and engineering. GEM’s core mission revolves around bolstering the participation of underrepresented groups – African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans – at the master’s and doctoral levels in engineering and science.

At the conference, Yessica was recognized for her compelling presentation on her collaborative research, “Advancing All-Solid-State Batteries through Atomic Level Design of closo-Dodecaborates.” Under the mentorship of Professor Alexander Spokoyny, Yessica’s research focuses on the functionalization of 3D and 2D boron systems.

GEM plays a pivotal role in identifying and recruiting high-caliber underrepresented students with aspirations to pursue Master’s and Doctoral degrees in applied science and engineering. These students are then matched based on their unique skills to meet the technical needs of GEM’s employer members. A testament to this process, Yessica was partnered with Oak Ridge National Lab, where she collaborated closely with high-pressure neutron scientist, Dr. Bianca Haberl.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,