Christopher Cornelius has been named associate director for research of Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. He will serve as chief technical officer and advisor to institute Director Roop Mahajan, and will share responsibilities for technical administration, setting strategic directions, and allocating resources on behalf of the institute.
Cornelius comes to Virginia Tech from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), a National Laboratory operated for the U. S. Department of Energy by Sandia Corporation. During his eight-year tenure with Sandia National Laboratories, Cornelius achieved recognition and respect in both the industry and academic communities for excellence in technically diverse rigorous research and publications, teaching, and mentoring of post-doctorate, graduate, and undergraduate students. This recognition includes a recent promotion to Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, a position reserved for individuals who have achieved significant scientific impact at the national level and is typically awarded to the only the top 10 percent of Sandia staff.
In his new position at Virginia Tech, Cornelius will continue as an active researcher in synthetics and materials.
Cornelius’s research has been supported by more than $16 million in competitive research awards, and he has three awarded patents, and two patents pending -- all in the past seven years. Research areas include polymer membranes and hydrocarbon ionomers for fuel cells, water desalination via reverse-osmosis and electro-dialysis, hydrogen production via alkaline electrolysis, optical coatings for solar cells via sol-gel chemistry, and gas separations with polymer, organic-inorganic polymer composites, and surfactant-templated micro-porous glasses. These research activities have resulted in numerous collaborations with industry, other National Laboratories, the National Research Council of Canada, and university faculty throughout the nation.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Chris Cornelius to the Institute,” said Mahajan. “Chris will play a key role in leading and managing the institute including the very important role of nurturing the collaborative culture through team leadership. I believe we are fortunate to have attracted Chris at a time when he has made a decision to redirect his career strategy toward academia. The unique combination of a rigorous research program, strong interests in collaborative research, and a desire to share the joy of research while contributing to a student’s professional growth and career interests are a perfect fit for our institute and our long term strategy for research growth at Virginia Tech.” He added, “Chris’s connections with industry, national laboratories, and faculty colleagues will enhance our global perspective, providing invaluable exposure and dimension to our programs.”
“I’m excited to join Virginia Tech as a researcher and to share in the vision of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. I’m looking forward to contributing to the development of the Institute’s imprint in science for many years to come,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius earned a Ph.D. and master’s in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Montana State University. He has served as a member of the American Indian Science Engineering Society, an associate member of the American Chemical Society Committee on Minority Affairs, and as outreach co-chair for the American Indian Outreach Committee at Sandia National Laboratories. Additionally, he has served as adjunct professor in the chemistry department at Clemson University and in the chemical engineering department at the University of New Mexico, teaching and mentoring Ph.D. students.