Paul Robinson and Emily Paluch are the 2016 Elmer Carvey Memorial Scholarship Winners!



The winners of the 2016 Elmer Carvey Scholarship are Paul Robinson, an undergraduate majoring in Physics, and Emily Paluch, an undergraduate student majoring in Materials Science and Engineering. Both are attending University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr. Robinson is conducting research in Professor Anastassia Alexandrova’s lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, where he has worked for the past two years, starting in his freshman year. He has concentrated on theoretical calculations of chemical bonding in materials. His first project – conceived by him – involved the effects of high pressures on bonding in molecules. After mastering quantum mechanical calculation computer programs based on density functional theory, he rapidly achieved results and published a paper as the primary author (see P.J. Robinson and A.N. Alexandrova, Assessing the bonding properties of individual molecular orbitals, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2015,

After his initial success, he has developed collaborations with the Tolber and Kaner labs at UCLA, where using theoretical calculations, he analyzed and predicted new, industrially useful, super-hard tungsten borides to be evaluated in the laboratory. The goal is to “fix” the super-hard materials in silico and guide synthesis to create metals rivalling diamond’s hardness. Mr. Robinson also has developed a collaboration with the Bowne and McQueen research groups at Johns Hopkins. The work has involved developing candidate materials for hydrogen gas storage. In this collaboration he has also elucidated the electronic structure of samarium hexaboride, which will be used to make quantum-computing circuits.

Mr. Robinson has attained numerous honors, including becoming an Eagle Scout. He has a total of two publications, with several more in preparation, and has made two presentations at scientific conferences. In addition, he has maintained an excellent academic record.

After graduating in 2018, Mr. Robinson plans to attain his Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, focusing on designing and tuning the properties of materials. He would like to work on cross-disciplinary problems including superconductivity and the electronic structure of rare-earth materials.

Ms. Paluch has been performing research in Professor Mark Goorsky’s lab in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UCLA for the last two years. The thrust of her research is to identify a viable material and processing technique for producing high-efficiency antireflective coatings for thin-film silicon solar cells. She has identified porous silicon as the material of choice for the antireflective coating. She successfully produced and characterized samples that have yielded surface reflections of approximately 7%, which is a significant reduction in reflectivity when compared to bare silicon which reflects approximately 30% of incident light. Ms. Paluch has experienced several challenges during the development of this new material solution, including finding a way to control the electrical current of the power source during electrochemical etching of the porous silicon. 

She is also beginning an internship with Rayton Solar, a start-up solar cell company headquartered in Santa Monica, CA. There she will apply lessons-learned from her research to an industrial environment. In addition to her success in the laboratory and in industry, she is also the President of the Society of Women Engineers at UCLA for the coming year. She has also maintained a laudable academic record.

After graduating with her B.S. degree in 2017, Ms. Paluch plans to obtain an M.S. degree in materials science and engineering with an emphasis on electronic materials. Her career goal is to work at a solar cell company, performing research and development on ways to improve efficiency and reduce cost.

The Elmer Carvey Memorial Scholarship was established in honor of Elmer Carvey, an active member of the SCCAVS from 1964 until 1982. The Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students attending public, four-year colleges in California who are planning careers in areas of interest to the society, which include vacuum-related technologies, surface and thin film science, nanotechnology, the understanding of materials properties, and the development of new materials. The stipend is $1,500.00 for one year.