Dr. Mark T. Swihart is a UB Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and an Empire Innovation Professor in RENEW. His research interests and activities involve synthesis and applications of inorganic nanomaterials, in alignment with the RENEW focus area in Next-Generation Materials & Technologies for Energy, Environment, & Water Sustainability.
His research group combines both gas-phase (aerosol) and solution-phase (colloidal) synthesis methods for producing novel nanomaterials, and also conducts modeling and simulation work in support of material and process development. His group has been first in the world to demonstrate several applications of silicon nanocrystals (silicon quantum dots) in bioimaging and sensing. They are also widely known for their work in solution phase synthesis of anisotropic and multi-component nanomaterials, and for their computational studies of the nucleation and growth of silicon nanoparticles in the gas phase. More recently they have developed a new process for gas phase synthesis of multi-component metal nanoparticles and metal-oxide supported metal nanoparticles of well-controlled composition and have advanced the synthesis and applications of plasmonic semiconductor nanomaterials composed of low-toxicity, earth-abundant elements, particular those based upon copper chalcogenides. These materials have broad energy-related applications in catalysis for CO2 utilization, photocatalysis, and photovoltaics.
Swihart earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering (summa cum laude) from Rice University in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1997 from the University of Minnesota, as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow. His Ph.D. research focused on gas-phase chemical kinetics and detailed modeling of chemical vapor deposition processes. He then spent one year as a postdoctoral researcher in the Particle Technology Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he studied the nucleation and growth of silicon nanoparticles during thermal decomposition of silane, and also worked on thermal plasma chemical vapor deposition of diamond. Professor Swihart joined the faculty of the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) in 1998, has been a full professor since 2008, and was named a UB Distinguished Professor in 2014. From 2007 to 2015 he directed the UB2020 strategic initiative in Integrated Nanostructured Systems, and from 2015-2018 he served as Executive Director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics. Since July 2018, he is Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University at Buffalo and Empire Innovation Professor in RENEW. Swihart has co-authored a widely-used textbook, more than 280 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts and five book chapters, has co-edited three proceedings volumes, and is a co-inventor on five issued U.S. patents and four pending applications. According to Google Scholar, this body of work has been cited more than 19,500 times.
Dr. Swihart is a recipient of the Kenneth Whitby award from the American Association for Aerosol Research and the J.B. Wagner award from the Electrochemical Society, as well as several UB awards for research excellence. He has been named “Professor of the Year” by vote of the UB chemical engineering undergraduates five times and has received outstanding faculty mentor awards from UB’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and the McNair Scholars program. In 2015 he received the Meyerson Award, the university’s highest award for undergraduate mentoring. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Dr. Swihart has been a member of several journal editorial boards, and currently serves as an editor for Aerosol Science and Technology, and on the Board of Consulting Editors of AIChE Journal. He has served as research advisor to more than 95 current and former graduate students and 110 undergraduate researchers at UB.
Swihart is also known for leading science outreach activities for pre-college groups at the university and in the community. Favorites have included leaf-blower powered hovercrafts, high-flying trash cans, a kiddie pool full of corn starch and water, and homemade pyrotechnics.