Shamim Ahamed Named Hellman Fellow
A dozen early-career faculty members at UC Davis have been named to this year's Hellman Fellowship, a program to help propel their work to the next level.
"We're proud to be able to provide this support to foster the scholarship of these promising members of our faculty," said Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs, which administers the awards.
One faculty member selected is Shamim Ahamed, an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering, who plans to harvest energy from artificial lighting in Indoor Vertical Farming, or IVF, systems.
Over the years, IVF has grown in popularity as an efficient method to produce food that uses minimal space and fewer resources than traditional growing methods. However, the use of high-intensity lighting in IVF presents significant energy and cost demand, around 25-30 percent of the total operational expenses.
Ahamed's research will explore the potential of harvesting the energy from these lighting systems using silicon and organic photovoltaic cells. This energy can then be used in numerous ways, like alleviating the energy burden associated with space cooling or powering IoT devices.
San Francisco philanthropists Chris and Warren Hellman started the program in 1995, when their daughter Frances Hellman, then a recently tenured professor at UC San Diego, "observed that while young faculty were well-funded when first hired, challenges would arise after two to three years when start-up resources were exhausted and before other external support was viable," according to the foundation's website. "The Hellman family filled this need by providing financial awards for early stage researchers."
The program was launched at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, and eventually expanded to all 10 UC campuses, including UC Davis in 2008.
In 2020 the Hellman family provided endowments to each UC campus — $6 million to UC Davis — to continue the awards in perpetuity, through each campus's Society of Hellman Fellows. The Hellmans also intended their endowments to encourage others to contribute to the societies, as UC Davis did when it allocated $400,000 to the program this year. For more information on donating to the UC Davis society, contact Jennifer Prahl, director of foundation engagement, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, by email or at 530-752-1282.