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Junhong Chen

Junhong Chen

Joint Appointment [C]

Lead Water Strategist & Senior Scientist


Junhong Chen is lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory and a Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. 

Prior to coming to Chicago, Chen served as a program director for the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). He also served as a co-chair of the NSF-wide ERC Working Group to design the ERC Planning Grants program and the Gen-4 ERC program. Additionally, he was a representative from the Engineering Directorate serving on the NSF-wide Working Groups for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) and NSF Research Traineeship (NRT). 

Prior to joining NSF in May 2017, he was a regent scholar of the University of Wisconsin System, a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering and an Excellence in Engineering Faculty Fellow in Nanotechnology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He served as the director of the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center on Water Equipment and Policy for six years. He founded NanoAffix Science, LLC to commercialize real-time water sensors based on 2D nanomaterials. 

Chen received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from University of Minnesota in 2002 and was a postdoctoral scholar in chemical engineering at California Institute of Technology from 2002 to 2003. Chen is an elected fellow of National Academy of Inventors and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a recipient of the International Association of Advanced Materials Medal. His start-up company, NanoAffix, LLC is a recipient of the 2016 Wisconsin Innovation Award.


Junhong Chen’s research goal is to impact our society through scientific discoveries and sustainable technological innovations. His research interest lies in molecular engineering of nanomaterials and nanodevices, particularly hybrid nanomaterials featuring rich interfaces and nanodevices for sustainable energy and environment. His approach is to combine multidisciplinary experiments with first-principles calculations to design and discover novel nanomaterials for engineering various sensing and energy devices with superior performance.

Chen has made seminal contributions to general areas of hybrid nanomaterials and molecular engineering of various sensors and energy devices. He has published 250 journal papers and is listed as a 2017 and 2018 highly cited researcher (top 1%) in materials science by Clarivate Analytics. His research has led to nine issued U.S. patents, five pending patents and 13 licensing agreements. He is a pioneer in technology translation and commercialization through exemplary industrial partnership and the university start-up company.

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