From MSU Today - Jan. 25, 2013
Before coming to MSU, Jeff Sakamoto spent six years as a senior staff engineer at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, conducting research on materials for energy conversion, energy storage, and biomedicine. As part of the Mars Exploration Rover program, Sakamoto’s efforts helped the lithium ion batteries in the Mars Rovers survive the harsh climate of Mars and successfully survey the surface of that planet for several years.
Sakamoto’s experience at JPL helped him establish a solid foundation in fundamental materials research, device technology, and engineering, bridging the gap between basic science and applied research. In addition to his thermoelectrics and battery research, Sakamoto’s is also conducting research on porous biomaterials. While at JPL, he began working with Professor Mark Tuszynski, a neuroscientist interested in integrating NASA microfabrication technology into scaffolds for spinal cord repair. Sakamoto offered a few ideas and made a few prototypes related to the hierarchical, porous electrodes he had developed for his dissertation. The prototypes demonstrated considerable promise as a viable technology to cure spinal cord injuries. Over the past ten years, Sakamoto has had numerous grants funded—and five papers published—to continue this research.
At MSU, Sakamoto uses his research experience to inspire undergraduate and graduate students in the classroom and in the laboratory. In his five years at MSU, 20 undergraduate students have worked on research projects in Sakamoto’s laboratory. He also excels in hands-on activities to educate K–12 students about materials for energy and biomedicine. Sakamoto’s outreach efforts include the NSF sponsored Wireless Integrated MicroSystems for Teens, the Society for Women in Engineering-sponsored programs for high school girls, and the High School Enrichment Institute outreach programs.
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Teacher-Scholar Awards are made to six members of the tenure system faculty from the ranks of assistant professor and associate professor who early in their careers have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching. The essential purpose of the award is to provide recognition to the best teachers who have served at MSU for seven years or less, taking into consideration that the most effective teachers will have their instruction intricately linked to and informed by their research and creative activities.