Cooking Up New Ways to Use the ‘Wonder Material,’ Graphene: Andrew Levine, Class of 2021, Joins a Startup

Andrew Levine (Photo courtesy of Levine)

By Lida Tunesi

As a chemistry Ph.D. student at The Graduate Center and a researcher in the Nanoscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center (CUNY ASRC), Andrew Levine (Ph.D. ’21, Chemistry) developed an expertise in organic nanomaterials, like graphene. Hailed as a “wonder material,” graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atom that’s stronger than steel, harder than diamond, and more elastic than rubber. Today, as the new research development director at Green Graphene Inc., a startup that manufactures large-scale graphene for applications such as 3D-printed concrete, coatings, and sensors, Levine is applying his nanomaterial knowledge in new ways. 

“I collaborate with other companies interested in integrating our graphene for new applications,” Levine said, “and I also develop our production methods for controlling graphene characteristics.”

Levine’s knowledge of carbon-based nanomaterials comes from studying organic light-harvesting materials and their fabrication into devices at the CUNY ASRC. Though the amount of light the sun beams down onto Earth every day offers an attractive source of energy, current light-harvesting technology contends with low efficiency and high costs.

“I’ve always been interested in energy-harvesting applications as a means for combating global warming and nanotechnology as a means for solving device challenges,” Levine said.

As pandemic restrictions slowly ease up, Levine splits his time between directly working with materials at Green Graphene’s facilities in Bohemia, New York, and working remotely.

“I was incredibly fortunate to find this opportunity,” he said. “Job hunting is particularly difficult during the pandemic, let alone for a first job out of school.” To those also looking to make the leap from school to industry, he advises, “It’s never too soon to start networking, and never be afraid to put yourself out there.”

This is not the first career transition Levine has gone through. Prior to arriving at The Graduate Center, he taught high school chemistry, physics, and astronomy at the Academy for Software Engineering in Manhattan. He designed new curriculums for classes like Advanced Placement Chemistry and The Physics of Superheroes, and created and led a Science Olympiads group and a martial arts club.

“I loved teaching high school and I miss it sometimes,” he said. “but I wanted to conduct novel research.”

According to his adviser, Professor Adam Braunschweig (GC/Hunter, Chemistry and Biochemistry), who is also a CUNY ASRC Nanoscience Initiative faculty member, Levine’s wide range of interests and activities shone through during his Ph.D. studies, too.

“Andrew led the group in investigating supramolecular nanomaterials where he published multiple papers, obtained an NSF fellowship, and grew a thriving garden in the CUNY ASRC,” Braunschweig said. “He also coordinated the Braunschweig Group outreach program that pairs local high school students with graduate students at the CUNY ASRC to conduct interdisciplinary research. I was always impressed by how he was able to do so much and wondered when he had time to sleep.”

Levine even found the time to self-publish his own cookbook in 2020.

“I really love working with new ingredients,” he said, “exploring different styles, and thinking about the unifying chemistry and thermodynamics while I do mountains of dishes.”

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Submitted on: JUN 1, 2021

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