The lure of new materials: ASU welcomes new physics faculty

Arunima Singh's research focuses on exploring synthesis and applications for nanomaterials

September 25, 2018

Arunima Singh joins ASU as one of the Department of Physics' newest associate professors. Born in a small farming village where superstition was very much the order of the day, Singh was inspired by her father to pursue a career in science. He taught her to approach things scientifically: to observe the world around her and gather evidence; to look for proofs. “Science is a school of thought,” he told her.

Singh obtained her undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in India and then went to Cornell to pursue her doctorate in materials science and engineering. After Cornell, she was accepted as a postdoctoral associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg and later at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Singh’s research began in metallurgical and materials engineering, and it centers on accelerating materials discovery and using computer simulations to explore synthesis and applications for nanomaterials. Arunima Singh Download Full Image

Discovering new materials is an incredibly exciting prospect for Singh, and she has a constant eye for the possibilities in their use. Two-dimensional materials such as graphene — which was discovered in 2004 and is stronger than diamonds and yet remarkably flexible — creates incredible opportunities and implications for the field of technology. She referenced a prototype she has seen for a foldable cellphone, something considered a very “sci-fi” goal only a few decades back.

Indeed, because of her research and areas of interest, Singh often considers new technology with an eye for the materials that went into it. She pointed out her cellphone's lack of screen protector because of the tough Gorilla Glass 5 used for the screen — things like that spark her curiosity on how can we design materials using computations that perform even better. The tiniest of materials have incredible implications through technology and medicine.

Singh is excited to join ASU’s faculty and continue her research. “ASU seems like a very vibrant university where you can collaborate with other departments and researchers,” she said. This culture of innovation and communication, combined with the work other faculty are doing in the field of nanomaterials, made ASU a highly appealing destination for her.

“The school itself is leading the way in providing good quality of life, with an excellent reputation for having a good research program in physics,” she said.

When not building simulations to study nanomaterials and their possible uses, Singh enjoys the warm weather, badminton and outdoor activities available in Arizona.

Dominique Perkins

Events and Communications Coordinator, Department of Physics


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Sustainability students plant seeds for new semester

September 25, 2018

Sustainability students are growing into the new semester … along with a new crop of vegetables in their revamped community garden.

Students of all grade levels gathered in the S-cluster community area of the Adelphi II dorms in Tempe on Friday to reclaim their community garden after being away while the Adelphi Complex was shut down for renovation.

Maddie Mercer, a junior who is majoring in sustainability and psychology said that they were preparing for the new season of crops.

“We are on the cusp of a new growing season so we are just cleaning everything up,” Mercer said. “It is a great element to have in your own dorm, to have a space to grow vegetables.”

But the garden is about so much more than growing plants, according to Yaritza Hernandez, a sophomore double-majoring in sustainability and innovation in society.

“I think it is great for the incoming freshmen to have our garden that we didn’t have last year. I think it is just nice to garden; it’s a nice way to spend my Friday,” Hernandez said. “Everybody gets to meet each other, and it is just a way for the freshmen to meet the upperclassmen. I think it is definitely a form of community.”

For some of the students, like sustainability freshman Isabella Ledo, the community gardening experience was a first.

“It is definitely important to my experience, especially because I never got to garden like this with a community before …  it’s kind of cool to get to be a part of it for once,” Ledo said. “Especially since it’s something I’ve always wanted to do — garden.”

And for others, it was a chance to connect a familiar activity with a new group of people, like Sami Hollinshead, who is also a freshman studying sustainability.

“I’ve always gardened with my family — we had a big garden in our house since I was a kid — so it’s just another way for me to take that experience and transfer it to ASU, and meet different people and meet the upperclassmen and get to know them,” Hollinshead said. “Everyone should take part in gardening … it’s a way to have fun, and relieve stress, and help the environment, and we get to grow food, which is super fun.”

The garden will be available to anyone in the dorm who wants to eat the food, which will include lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, jalapeños, kale, a fig tree and edible flowers.

Leading the charge in planting the garden was School of Sustainability paraprofessional Jacquie Shea, a sophomore double-majoring in Spanish and sustainability.

“My vision is that my residents will be able to take things to eat because right now all they really have growing is basil and some sweet potatoes, but nothing else that they can really just eat,” she said. “I am hoping that a lot of the stuff that they can just pull and eat once it’s in season.”

Alexandra Neumann, a sophomore double majoring in sustainability and conservation biology, said that this group activity was reflective of the School of Sustainability’s commitment to live what they learn and what they teach.

“The School of Sustainability is really good about building community through doing things that relate to what we are studying,” Neumann said.  “And gardening is one of the best ways to build communities, so that is why I am here, to meet new people and to grow some food.”

Top photo: Residents of the Sustainability Cluster at Adelphi spread soil in their community garden. The vegetables harvested from this garden are used by students living in the Sustainability Cluster to prepare meals for themselves throughout the year. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Isaac Windes

Reporter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications