Pete Barnes, the Graduate College’s 2021 Distinguished Scholar award recipient, has long been considered a top student in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. Barnes completed his undergraduate degree at Boise State in 2014 before joining the graduate program in 2015. During this time, Barnes was no stranger to awards.
He received the 2014 Outstanding Graduate award from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and was one of seven undergraduates in the nation who received the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2013.
“It is a privilege to have my thesis considered as one of the most distinguished of the graduate college, especially since I know the amazing work of my peers,” Barnes said. “They pushed me to achieve more than I thought possible and I hope they continue to be that beacon as they begin their careers at universities, national laboratories and industry.”
Barnes’s research, “Nanostructured Niobium Oxides as Negative Electrodes for Lithium and Sodium Ion Batteries,” focused on new synthetic routes for novel metal oxide electrode materials for rechargeable batteries. This research has the potential to accelerate the discovery of new energy materials and effectively reduce the cost of development.
“Pete has always demonstrated strong and consistent motivation in research, attention to detail, critical thinking, and excellent ability to carry out challenging research,” said Claire Xiong, Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering associate professor and Barnes’ advisor. “He has shown the quality of a devoted and true scientist through his patience and persistence and focus on details.”
Barnes’s work has been published in seven high-impact peer-reviewed journal publications including Chemistry of Materials, Journal of Power Sources and Journal of Materials Chemistry. Additionally, Barnes has two first-authored pieces under review at Nature Materials and Small. His research led to an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program in 2016.
“I’m amazed at the level of support and opportunity the members and faculty of the College of Engineering provided not only to myself, but to every student, each day,” Barnes said. “My accomplishments were all made possible through the work with my mentor Dr. Xiong, my graduate committee, the Center for Materials Characterization and numerous laboratories. There are too many to list, but I hope they know how important they are to me.”
His research publications provide insights on discovering new avenues to make materials of practical importance, how battery degradation can effectively accelerate the development of commercial sodium ion batteries, and how ordered nanomaterials can be created with the use of electropolishing and anodization.