See all NewsEngineering News
Honors and Awards

Laurence Marks Receives Fulbright Award

Marks will take his research abroad, continuing his study of how static electricity forms

Northwestern Engineering’s Laurence Marks has received a Fulbright US Scholar fellowship from the US Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The prestigious fellowship provides unique opportunities for scholars to teach and conduct research abroad, forge new relationships, and contribute to finding solutions to challenges both local and global. 

Marks, a professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering, will spend six months in Australia studying the mystery of static electricity. His research focuses on nanoparticles, electron microscopy, diffraction, and crystallography. Marks’ most highly cited work is the discovery of a type of nanoparticle which has become known as the Marks Decahedron. 

Laurence Marks

In Australia, Marks will continue his study of how static electricity forms. The common phenomenon has not had a widely accepted scientific explanation. In 2019, Marks and two of his doctoral students reported this finding: When two objects are rubbed together, the bending of tiny protrusions on their surfaces creates voltage — something called triboelectricity, or static electricity.

“I am looking forward to going to Australia to work with scientists at Curtin University in Perth,” Marks said. “This will be a unique opportunity to work on how static electricity forms with my experimental collaborator Simone Ciampi and also the theoretician Julian Gale. Receiving the Fulbright fellowship is an honor.”

Northwestern University graduate student Elizabeth Koselka, a doctoral candidate in the department of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, was also selected for a fellowship.

Fulbright award recipients are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential. Marks is among more than 800 US scholars, artists, and professionals from all backgrounds who will spend time abroad during the 2023-2024 academic year.

Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs serves as the University’s Fulbright Scholar Liaison for faculty members, facilitating increased participation in the Fulbright Scholar Program via institutional-level support and peer-to-peer engagement. Events like the inaugural Fulbright Week, held in April, offer students and staff opportunities to learn about Fulbright grants, make new connections, and increase their chances of a successful application.