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CEE's Shaffer earns NSF CAREER award
July 16, 2021
By
Stephen Greenwell
Devin L. Shaffer, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is the latest member of the faculty to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award.
Devin L. Shaffer, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is the latest member of the faculty to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award.
Devin Shaffer (second from right) poses with his graduate students during Summer 2021.
Devin Shaffer (second from right) poses with his graduate students during Summer 2021.

The Cullen College of Engineering is happy to announce that Devin L. Shaffer, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is the latest member of the faculty to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award.

Presented once a year, the awards provided financial support for five years for the research of junior faculty. Shaffer received $538,686 in funding for his proposal, “Two-Dimensional Covalent Organic Framework (2D COF) Membranes: A New Platform for Liquid Separations,” which will run through June 2026.

“I was excited to receive the news from NSF about funding for my CAREER proposal, and I am very grateful for five years of support for graduate student researchers,” he said. “I’m eager to pursue this research in covalent organic framework membranes, which are new materials that can efficiently separate complex liquids. I’m also looking forward to partnering with the teachHOUSTON program at UH to engage undergraduate pre-service STEM teachers in the research.”

Shaffer earned his doctorate from Yale in 2016. He was hired by the Cullen College of Engineering in 2018, after his work as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016 and 2017 in the Materials Science and Engineering Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Before beginning at Yale, he worked as a professional engineer for Carollo Engineers, Inc., in Phoenix. He earned his Master's in Environmental Engineering from MIT in 2003, and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State in 2002.

Shaffer's research could lead to better filtration methods via new porous materials.

“My research is focused on membrane separations for liquids,” he said. “In the lab, we design new membrane materials and test membrane separation processes for applications like purifying drinking water, recycling wastewater from oil and gas production, and filtering impurities from organic liquids. This CAREER project will engineer membranes from covalent organic frameworks (COFs), which are polymers with ordered porous structures. We will fabricate ultrathin COF membranes with tunable pore properties and apply these membranes to different liquid separation challenges in the energy, environmental and health fields.”

The financial support provided by Shaffer's award will allow him to substantially expand his research, as well as grow the head count of his lab.

“The CAREER award will support two PhD students and will involve eight undergraduate pre-service teachers in semester-long research projects,” he said. “The award will also enable a partnership with Dr. Mariam Manuel of the teachHOUSTON program for the pre-service teacher development.”

“I’ve really appreciated the support and encouragement of my colleagues in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Cullen College of Engineering in my research and in pursuit of this CAREER award,” he added.

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