As a student representative to the ALS Users Executive Committee (UEC) for the past two years, Mahati Chintapalli has gained a better understanding of how the ALS functions as an organization, while the UEC has gained a devoted and outgoing member. This year, Chintapalli led the fundraising drive for the annual User Meeting awards along with UEC member Micky Holcomb, and they raised the monies in record time. She’s currently a PhD student in Materials Science at UC Berkeley and has been conducting research at the ALS since she began her PhD program in 2011.
“Being on the UEC has been really positive,” says Chintapalli. “I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of people and learn about how the organization plans for the future of the synchrotron.”
Two years ago, Chintapalli won the student poster competition at the ALS User Meeting for her poster about carbon monoxide dissociation on cobalt nanoparticles, based on her research into how the size of nanoparticles affected the CO dissociation. These days, her research is focused on block copolymer electrolytes and how they conduct ions for lithium batteries; she’s using the small-angle scattering capabilities at Beamline 7.3.3 for this work. In the future, she hopes to be able to use spectroscopy to look at how ions are solvated and conducted in polymer electrolytes with the hope of learning how to design polymer electrolyte systems with improved ionic conductivity.
“I am very grateful that I’ve gotten a chance to do different types of research in my time at the ALS,” she says. “With my current work at 7.3.3, I’ve been able to see the correlation between the structure of the polymer and how well or how poorly it conducts ions because of its structure.”
Chintapalli says her involvement in the UEC has given her a broader view of the ALS user community, as she’s gotten to know scientists outside of her own field. She says that these informal connections have opened up wider opportunities for her at the ALS.