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2020 Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement

Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise Awards honor faculty members who are early in their careers for excellence in research, scholarship, and creative achievement.

Daniel Costinett

Daniel CostinettDaniel Costinett is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received his PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013. His research interests include the design of high-efficiency wired and wireless power supplies.

How does your research benefit UT?

We design circuitry that powers electronics from cell phones to electric cars, medical devices to renewable energy, airplanes to satellites. Our research makes these devices smaller, smarter, more efficient, safer, more reliable, and cheaper. At UT, this research allows students to get involved with developments at the forefront of the field and improves classes through integration of emerging applications and theory into their content.

Steve Johnston

Steve JohnstonSteven Johnston, an assistant professor of theoretical condensed matter in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, studies the properties of novel quantum materials using state-of-the-art computational methods. His group is also exploring the use of techniques in quantum information and machine learning for simulating quantum materials. Johnston was the recipient of a 2019 National Science Foundation CAREER award.

What does being a Volunteer mean to you?

It means being part of an internationally competitive research program with access to some of the best computing resources and labs in the country.

Alison Vacca

Alison VaccaAlison Vacca is an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of History. A historian of the early Islamic world, Vacca works with Arabic and Armenian sources to investigate the medieval Caucasus (modern Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan). Her current project analyzes the ways in which stories about medieval Muslim and Christian women express male concerns about communal differences.

How does your research benefit UT?

I teach courses related to the themes of my research, which offers students the opportunity to learn about and appreciate religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of the world around them.

Haixuan Xu

Haixuan XuHaixuan Xu is an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His research focuses on the fundamental understanding of structure-property relationships and the computational design of materials for various energy applications. “We integrate first-principles density functional theory, atomistic molecular dynamics, and mesoscale kinetic Monte Carlo simulations,” Xu explains.

What does being a Volunteer mean to you?

“One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.” It is a sincere honor to be a Volunteer!