Karen Chen-Wiegart of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with a Joint Appointment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, represented Stony Brook University at the 2019 Chancellor’s State of The University System (SOTUS) Address in Albany, NY. SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson delivered her second State of the University System address on January 31, 2019 from the Albany Capital Center.
Chancellor Johnson spoke on the 2019 initiatives to increase faculty diversity, expand the breadth of online offerings and improve overall student support. SUNY schools were able to participate in the event and showcase their latest work across a wide range of topics including research, student opportunities, workforce development and campus partnerships and collaborations.
Chen-Wiegart, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, showcases one of her research projects at the intriguing intersection between the fields of art and science. Her research interests are focused on applying state-of-the-art X-ray imaging and spectroscopic techniques to studying novel functional materials.
Her group utilizes the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven Lab, one of the most advanced synchrotron facilities in the world. Her research contributes to solving critical problems in energy storage and conversion, nano-/meso-porous materials, thin film and surface treatments. Chen-Wiegart also has a strong interest in research involving cultural heritage.
“Karen is at the forefront of materials science, identifying new ways to solve problems using the unique capabilities of NSLS-II. As a joint appointment with Brookhaven National Lab, she opens doors to research opportunities that few other research universities have,” said Richard J. Reeder, SBU’s Vice President for Research who also oversees Brookhaven Lab Affairs.
During her showcase, Professor Chen-Wiegart detailed the distinctive capabilities of the synchrotron light source at Brookhaven Lab. In a collaborative research effort with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, she is part of a team that uses the facilities at Brookhaven Lab to explore the degradation of paint in a 500-year-old work of art. The National Synchrotron Light Source II exists as a powerful tool that can see specific changes in these paintings on a very fine scale. In particular, the formation of unwanted soaps from pigments common in numerous paintings.
“Karen is one of the foremost researchers pushing a so-called ‘“multimodal’” approach in her work. This mean she combines many different techniques available at NSLS-II to tackle the tough problems she is interested in, for example understanding energy storage. It is a pleasure to have her as a joint appointment at NSLS-II,” said Dr. John Hill, Director, National Synchrotron Light Source II.
Chen-Wiegart and her team aim to provide novel insights that will allow researchers in both the art and science fields to protect valuable works of art from deterioration. Her showcase presentation highlighted the fascinating intersection between science, art and technology. The underlying materials science aspects in cultural heritage were successfully brought to surface to a very receptive and interested audience at the event.
Chen-Wiegart was able to effectively communicate the importance and excitement surrounding her work in cultural heritage through technology by using a visual model of NSLS-II built by the Maker Club at Brookhaven Lab and interactive displays with the audience.