Mizzou Engineering REU participant earns national recognition from NSF

A man poses with his mother and father, all in business casual attire.

Cole Love-Baker and his parents, Jackie Love-Baker and Steve Baker, were in attendance at the NSF REU Symposium in Alexandria, Va. Photo courtesy of Cole Love-Baker.

A participant in Mizzou Engineering’s National Science Foundation-funded Materials Design and Processing Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) beat out hefty competition to earn a presentation spot at the national NSF REU Symposium in Alexandria, Va.

Cole Love-Baker, an engineering student at the University of South Carolina, put together a presentation on the work he did with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the lab of Matt Maschmann, MU assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His poster was selected as the top from the MU REUs and submitted for consideration in the national symposium, earning a coveted slot at the prestigious event.

“The NSF Symposium was a really good experience,” Love-Baker said. “I really would like to give a talk in the near future, but giving a poster presentation was a nice intro to that. I got to talk to people who know the field really well and people who don’t know the field really well and get good experience talking to people who don’t have the background.”

Throughout the course of the nine-week REU at Mizzou, Love-Baker picked up where some of Maschmann’s departed graduate students left off, utilizing carbon nanotubes to create multiple 3-D structures on a single substrate. He then was able to find a way to separate those tiny components from the substrate, helping set the stage for research into using CNTs to create certain components in the future — work that Maschmann’s lab is continuing.

“We concocted a new method for growing nanotubes in a two-phase process,” Maschmann said. “We grew them on one part of the substrate using one process, then switched growth conditions and grew more on a different part of the substrate. Since they were independent, we could make three-dimensional shapes.”

Maschmann, who was participating as a REU instructor for the first time, said he was impressed both by how quickly Love-Baker picked up the research concepts and how independently he was able to work to achieve stellar results.

“For being an undergraduate to just being in the lab every day in a brand new area and mastering all the technology so quickly, I was super impressed,” he said. “And a lot of the people I interacted with were super impressed.”

Love-Baker chose the Mizzou REU specifically because of his interest in Maschmann’s research. And his faith was not misplaced.

“The program at MU is fantastic,” he said. “Dr. (Heather) Hunt, Dr. Maschmann — they were supportive of anything we wanted to do.”

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