Tansel Karabacak honored as Arkansas Research Alliance fellow

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shakes hands with Tansel Karabacak, recipient of the Arkansas Research Alliance fellowship. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.

Dr. Tansel Karabacak has joined the ranks of some of the most celebrated and promising researchers in Arkansas. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday, Aug. 3, that Karabacak, UA Little Rock professor of physics and astronomy, is a 2017 fellow of the Arkansas Research Alliance.

“These five new Arkansas Research Alliance fellows will be an incredible asset to our state in the area of scientific research and progress,” Hutchinson said in a news release. “And in today’s continuously evolving economy, more people are recognizing the massive influence science and innovation have on our economy. Arkansas Research Alliance continues to serve the state well with its commitment to economic prosperity through science and technology based jobs.”

The Arkansas Research Alliance was founded in 2008 to invest in research that stimulates innovation, collaboration, and economic opportunity where Arkansas possesses core competencies.

The fellows program annually recognizes researchers at Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Chancellor Andrew Rogerson nominated Karabacak for the award in recognition of his research that focuses on the properties and applications of nanostructured and thin film materials.

Karabacak is especially well known for his pioneering work on glancing angle deposited (GLAD) nanostructures. GLAD is a simple and low-cost fabrication method of producing a wide variety of materials in nanostructured form and can be used for several applications, such as fuel cells, solar cells, battery electrodes, photodetectors, optical filters, and biosensors.

“Being named an ARA fellow was quite the surprise for me,” Karabacak said. “The people who are selected are all highly skilled researchers. I was very humbled by this recognition.”

Karabacak recently received $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for a three-year project to develop high-performance, cost-effective fuel cells that can be used in vehicles.

Additional research being conducted at his Thin Films and Nanostructures Research Group includes a collaboration to improve the lifetime and durability of lithium ion batteries. The group is also working on fabricating materials that control the behaviors of oil and water.

“By controlling such materials, we can fabricate materials with anti-freezing, anti-fogging, and anti-bacterial surfaces,” he said. “It could also be used in oil spills to separate water and oil from each other.”

Dr. Tansel Karabacak is one of the 2017 recipients of the Arkansas Research Alliance fellowship. Pictured from left to right is Jerry Adams, Julie LaRue, Tansel Karabacak, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson.
Dr. Tansel Karabacak is one of the 2017 recipients of the Arkansas Research Alliance fellowship. Pictured from left to right is Jerry Adams, Julie LaRue, Tansel Karabacak, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson.

As for receiving the fellowship, Karabacak is most excited about the potential research collaborations he can make through the Arkansas Research Alliance.

“I feel more energized to work through the ARA, because I want to serve Arkansas on a big picture scale,” he said. “The ARA is helping me see the big picture by guiding me and other researchers to better contribute to Arkansas research, economic development, and industry.”

As an Arkansas Research Alliance fellow, Karabacak will be awarded a $75,000 grant to be paid over the course of three years to assist him in his research. He would like to use some of the money to sponsor a graduate assistant at UA Little Rock.

More about Dr. Karabacak:

Karabacak holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Shortly after coming to UA Little Rock from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006, Karabacak set about creating new thin films in a nanostructures lab. The lab houses state-of-the-art fabrication and testing equipment, as well as computational tools for analysis and modeling studies. In addition to being a professor, Karabacak is also the graduate coordinator of the applied physics master’s and Ph.D. programs.

Karabacak served as chair of the American Vacuum Society Thin Films Division, the top ranking international organization for professionals in his field. He has been awarded the UA Little Rock Faculty Excellence in Research, 2017; the UA Little Rock College of Science Faculty Excellence in Research, 2013; and the Kathleen Thomsen Hall Award, 2007 and 2012. He also was selected for the 2010 edition of Marquis Who’s Who in America.  

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