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CIE Researcher of Distinction, April 2017

Coray L. McBean

Coray L. McBean

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Coray L. McBean, PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry. Coray presented his work, ‘Synthesis and Characterization of High Aspect Ratio LaNiO3 with Demonstration of Viability for Oxygen Evolution on Monday, April 24, 2017.

Coray's Path Into Research

Coray L. McBean is a fifth-year PhD candidate from the Department of Chemistry. Before starting his PhD career at Stony Brook University, he graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 2010 from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and then proceeded to work in industry as a chemist for two years. His research is themed on the novel synthesis of nano-scaled inorganic particles, mainly for energy-related applications.

Coray's Current Research

Describe the work you presented for your Research Café.

Extracting hydrogen and oxygen from water has traditionally been more efficient with nano-scaled precious metal-based catalysts. Removing the precious metal component while maintaining reasonable performance could financially facilitate large-scale implementation of devices such as energy-dense lithium air batteries and hydrogen-producing water splitting devices. Presented, is the synthesis of precious metal-free (lanthanum nickel oxide, LaNiO3) particles whose size lay within the nano length-scale. Catalytic hydrogen and oxygen extraction activity of the presented particles is demonstrated and compared with commercially available precious metal-based (ruthenium, Ru) nanoparticles.

How did you become interested in research?

My undergraduate research advisor, Dr. Brian Gibney was always passionate about this work. I believe this influenced me. I became even more curious about doing research after having worked in industry. There is a certain charm in revealing information that has not been revealed, prior.

Are there any other projects you are currently working on? 

My other projects include:

  • Synthesis of bifunctional nanostructured lanthanum manganese oxide for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), and the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).
  • Synthesis of yttrium manganese oxide with multiferroic properties for potential applications in electronic memory devices.
  • Synthesis of iron oxide nanostructures for a lithium ion battery study.

What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?

I was interested in working with energy related materials and I was impressed with the progress Stony Brook has made so far in the area. Several SBU faculty that work in energy, also collaborate with staff, and have access to instrumentation, at the neighboring Brookhaven National Laboratory. The idea of working at a national laboratory was also an incentive. Also, Stony Brook’s proximity to home meant I could visit without needing to book a flight, which was convenient. Lastly, I preferred a school within a quieter surrounding, as opposed to a school within a cityscape. Stony Brook has a beautiful campus and I am proud to be a Seawolf!

What are your future goals?

After graduating, my immediate goal remains flexible in that I plan to seek employment with either a technology company, a scientific government agency, or obtain a postdoctoral position in which I hope to further my research.

What do you enjoy most about research?

The feeling of hopefulness gained whenever I’ve found a solution to a difficult, practical research problem— this usually happens over a cup of tea. Interestingly enough, these solutions are often simple.