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Gouma is new Edward Orton, Jr., Chair

Perena GoumaPerena Gouma, PhD has been chosen to be the incoming Edward Orton, Jr., Chair in Ceramic Engineering. Gouma will have a joint position as professor of materials science and engineering and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and will join The Ohio State University in the fall of 2017.

“Professor Orton was a real visionary – a successful academic, an entrepreneur, and he established The American Ceramic Society,” Gouma said. “It is my great honor to hold a position named after him.”

“Professor Gouma brings expertise in the design and development of ceramic-based sensors for industrial and biomedical applications, areas that directly support strategic connections among materials, medicine, mobility, and manufacturing,” said Peter Anderson, professor and chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Gouma is currently professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Texas-Arlington. Prior to that, she held a faculty position at the State University of New York-Stony Brook for 16 years and was Director of the Center for Nanomaterials and Sensor Development. She received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece (‘90), Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (’92) and Master of Philosophy in Organizational Management (’93) from the University of Liverpool, UK, and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Birmingham, UK (‘96).

She is an internationally recognized researcher and instructor. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Inventors since 2016, received the Richard M. Fulrath Award of The American Ceramic Society in 2013, was a 2008 Fulbright Scholar, and has been named a fellow by the National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM).

She has held guest faculty appointments at various universities and research laboratories all over the world, including: the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of of Brescia, Italy; Unicamp, Sao Paulo, Brazil; and the National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan. She has given plenary, keynote and invited talks at international conferences on nanomaterials and artificial olfactory systems and she has gained considerable exposure on mainstream and social media with press releases on her research, including outlets like CNBC, TV Globo, NSF Science Nation Video, Fox News, and Inside TV. She has authored or co-authored over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has 18 patents involving nanomaterials, photocatalysts, sensors, and breathalyzers.

Gouma’s research over the years has been funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, and she has also received grants and subcontracts from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense.

Gouma has carried out research in diverse fields of materials science, from structural intermetallics to functional ceramics. The emphasis of her research efforts was placed on the field of ceramic engineering, particularly the synthesis, characterization, and functional properties of metal oxides for biomarker, environmental, industrial, and medical applications.

One of her breakthrough applications of ceramics is the acetone breathalyzer for diabetes detection. Gouma was able to stabilize a ferroelectric polymorph of tungsten trioxide that attracts only the molecules of acetone in breath. Acetone is the biomarker for diabetes.

“These nanoparticles give enough sensitivity to potentially enable us to monitor diabetes in an inexpensive, non-invasive, non-intrusive way through a single exhalation or through skin acetone monitoring,” Gouma said. She’s developed prototypes of a breathalyzer for diabetes using this technology.

In the realm of water quality, Gouma has developed photocatalysts that clean water. The technology takes the shape of nanogrids, net-like mats that float on water and target hydrocarbons using the full spectrum of solar energy. The reusable catalysts can clean oil spills in water, clean water produced in hydraulic fracturing, and remove dyes from water without leaving any waste simply by converting these pollutants to water and benign gases.

“This can be used as the final remediation step in a cleanup of water produced at fracking sites,” Gouma said. “It can turn produced water from wastewater to drinkable water, and it can be treated onsite.”

As Orton Chair Gouma aims to continue her inventive, entrepreneurial brand through the establishment of the Smart World NanoCeramics Engineering Center to participate in global initiatives in transportation, medicine, and manufacturing.   

The Orton Chair is a tribute to Edward Orton, Jr., who is remembered as the founder of ceramic engineering education in America and as a leader in the ceramic community. Orton recognized the importance of developing new information for ceramic manufacturers. An accomplished mining engineer and geologist, he made every effort to make Ohio State a leader in ceramic research and education.

The goals of the Orton Chair are to enhance the relationships between industry and the University and to broaden the contributions of ceramic educational programs in regard to the manufacture and use of ceramic materials.


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