Bulovic Group: Will Tisdale

  1. Excitonic Energy Focusing
    Excitonic Energy Focusing

Meet Will Tisdale, postdoctoral scholar, since August 2010, in Vladimir Bulovic’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Lab at MIT. Next year, he will become an assistant professor in the MIT Chemical Engineering Department.

Will earned his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota where he investigated fundamental properties of semiconductor nanocrystals for use in next-generation solar cells. His research specifically focused on the dynamics of electron transfer and relaxation in quantum dots and near semiconductor surfaces using ultrafast photoelectron and nonlinear optical spectroscopies.

Will, could you talk a little about your current research interests and how they have gelled as you have been part of the Bulovic group?

Will Tisdale:
“My research in the Bulovic group revolves around excitonic energy transfer in organic and nanostructured electronic materials. The movement of excitons within nanostructured materials is fundamental to the operation of many optoelectronic devices, such as solar cells and light emitting diodes. I use a variety of materials deposition and time-resolved spectroscopy techniques to test our understanding of these processes and design new architectures for enhanced efficiency.

How have you found working as a member of the Bulovic group? (It must be interesting from your postdoc perspective to see how things work for all different levels of students).

Will Tisdale:
“I think that, no matter what your level (undergrad, grad, postdoc), this group is a wonderful place to be. It’s the people you surround yourself with that make you into the scientist you will become. Vladimir is keenly aware of this, and is careful to include current group members in the process of evaluating prospective members. The end result is that you have a group of people who are interested and excited to work with each other. This creates an atmosphere of support — instead of an atmosphere of competition or subversion that you sometimes find at institutions of MIT’s caliber. I have found this group — and MIT in general — to be an incredibly enriching environment for scientific growth and discovery.

As you prepare to launch your own group in 2012 as a new faculty member in the ChemE Department at MIT, how do you find your experience in Vladimir Bulovic’s group has influenced you?

Will Tisdale:
“I am of the opinion that academic research should be the student’s work — not the professor’s — and that the professor’s role is to help the student become as successful as possible is her scientific endeavors. Vladimir has provided, through example, what I think is a great model of how to successfully do just that: make your students comfortable (so that they enjoy being in the lab/office); secure enough financial resources so that equipment is never an obstacle to your science (easier said than done); communicate your enthusiasm for the problems the group is tackling (anyone who’s met Vladimir knows that he comes by this naturally!); and give your students freedom to explore, and set extremely high standards for their work (be critical!). Overall, Vladimir is much more of a “carrot” guy than a “stick” guy, seeking to get you excited about your work rather than threatening or intimidating.

Will you be transferring the research you have been involved with in the Bulovic group to your new lab in ChemE or will you be branching to new areas?

Will Tisdale:
As I set off to start my own research group in ChemE next year, I will look to continue some of the work I’ve started here in collaboration with Vladimir, but certainly branch out in new directions of my own as well.

I have a great interest in understanding and controlling the movement of charge and energy through nanostructured materials, and many of the tools and perspectives I’ve acquired through my postdoc here will equip me to do that. Part of my motivation for joining Vladimir’s group was to work alongside some of the world’s leading optoelectronic device engineers so that I can understand which problems are the most critical and ensure that my own research is as meaningful as possible.”

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