Mechanical engineering PhD student Abhishek Gupta has received an Exceptional Mentorship Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Gupta was recognized for his outstanding work mentoring Dhanvi Bharadwaj, an undergraduate physics student and participant in the URS program, on a research project in the lab of his faculty advisor, Engineering Physics Assistant Professor Ramathasan Thevamaran.
For the research project, Gupta worked with Bharadwaj on the synthesis and characterization of foam-like soft and compressible vertically aligned carbon nanotube (VACNT) material. VACNT is a hierarchical material with exceptional mechanical properties, including the capability to absorb high-energy impacts and fully recover after thousands of compression cycles.
In Thevamaran’s lab, Bharadwaj gained hands-on experience using a chemical vapor deposition process to synthesize VACNT. Then, Gupta and Bharadwaj used different static and dynamic material characterization techniques to get insights into the material’s properties to develop a phenomenological material model.
“A phenomenological material model will help us model material in commercial finite element software to run simulations and see VACNT in action—for example, simulating impact on a safety helmet with VACNT padding inside or studying wave propagation in a composite with VACNT layers,” Gupta says.
In nominating Gupta for the award, Bharadwaj underscored how his leadership and creativity have driven this project forward. “Abhishek is not only academically well-versed in his research topic, but also very interested in involving others to enjoy hands-on experimental physics with him. His genuine interest in the subject makes him not only a good mentor, but an exceptional teacher,” Bharadwaj says.
Gupta says he feels honored to receive this award but, more importantly, he’s pleased that Bharadwaj enjoyed working on the research project and had a valuable educational experience.
“One of the major motivations for me to do a PhD is to gain in-depth knowledge of the field and communicate it to others. As a URS mentor, I got this chance to pass on this knowledge to young and enthusiastic undergrad students,” Gupta says.
Author: Adam Malecek