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Jacob Scroggins

Scroggins Builds Experience with Summer Research and Scholarship Support

Jakob Scroggins launched his fall 2023 semester in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) with the valuable support of the Acta Materialia Inc. Undergraduate Scholarship from the ASM Materials Education Foundation. The welcome news came after a busy summer in a research internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The scholarship brings multiple benefits for Scroggins.

“Most fundamentally, it has eased the financial burden my education has on my family and me as an out-of-state student,” said Scroggins. “But more uniquely, this scholarship has boosted my confidence and sense of purpose by showing me that my commitment to, and passion for, education, and research is worth supporting.”

The scholarship follows a successful experience working in the US Department of Energy’s Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship with mentor Yaocai Bai and researcher Lu Yu (an MSE alumnus) in the Battery Manufacturing Facility at ORNL. They worked on the development of a novel, versatile, and water-based method for delaminating anode films from copper current collectors that takes advantage of the chemical properties of a surfactant and a salt.

As part of the team, he demonstrated the reprocessing of the delaminated films into new anodes for physical, chemical, and electrochemical characterization. This method for anode-scrap recovery allows battery manufacturers to recycle quality-control-rejected anodes quickly and effectively, minimizing waste and maximizing profit.

Scroggins keeps up his research pace throughout the semester working with Professor David Harper at the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC). He investigates lignin-derived carbon fibers that can be used as supercapacitor electrodes.

“After getting a fairly complete set of data using hardwood fibers, I’m now focusing on softwood fibers, which are proving to be more processable and hopefully better-performing electrodes,” he said.

Through his work at the CRC, Scroggins co-authored a 2022 paper examining lignin-based activated carbons for environmental remediation. His CRC role lets him bring ideas from the classroom directly to application.

“I love the breadth and applicability of materials science and engineering,” he said. “I’m excited to see what contributions I can make to the field as I pursue a PhD in a couple of years.”

Scroggins feels gratitude in both his faith and family for support in his educational experience and extends thanks to the scholarship selection committee for believing in him and his work.

“I would also like to extend a big thank-you to my mentors David Harper, David Keffer, and Lu Yu and to all of my professors across the MSE department and Tickle College of Engineering,” he said. “Their knowledge, support, and encouragement are invaluable.”


Randall Brown (865-974-0533,