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2014 Turkman Scholar Award presented to Karine Florent

International engineering student Karine Florent was recently named the 2014 Ibrahim Renan Turkman Scholar, an award established by the microelectronic engineering program at Rochester Institute of Technology. Florent received the designation in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements, scholarly work within the department’s research laboratories and participation as mentor and teaching assistant for undergraduate students in the department.

“Dr. Turkman was one of the most distinguished professors we’ve had. His expertise was in eloquent teaching of semiconductor device physics. Karine’s performance in her coursework and conducting laboratory experiments has been outstanding, something Renan would be proud of,” said Santosh Kurinec, professor of microelectronic engineering in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, and part of the faculty group that selects an awardee each year.

This is Florent’s second visit to RIT. In the fall of 2012, she was one of 11 engineering students from L’Institut National des Sciences Appliquees de Rennes, also referred to as INSA, that traveled to RIT as part of a study abroad experience, taking classes in RIT’s engineering college. RIT and INSA have an exchange partnership, one of many RIT maintains with universities around the globe. INSA is considered one of the top engineering colleges in France, and Florent graduated from that university in 2013 with a Master of Science degree in materials science and engineering. She began her second master’s degree, this time in RIT’s microelectronic engineering program, and is looking forward to working more in a laboratory setting before considering a Ph.D.

“I preferred to return to RIT to experience graduate education in a semiconductor facility that RIT has, and to focus on cutting-edge, industry-oriented research,” said Florent, who is from Saint-Brieuc, in western France. “Receiving the 2014 Turkman Award is a great honor for me, and will inspire me for pursuing my dreams.”

Currently she is involved in research with Kurinec’s group on several projects that include the introduction of copper as an alternative material for building solar cell technology, ferroelectric thin films and 2D-semiconductors. The copper project involves exploring novel alternative techniques such as ink printing and electroplating to replace conventional silver metallization in solar cells.

“In industry, silver has become more expensive, so it is necessary to find an alternative metal with the same electronic characteristics, but less expensive. Having been exposed to several research areas, I foresee a very productive career dedicated to state-of-the-art research,” said Florent, who has recently conducted research on ferroelectric hafnium oxide thin films at RIT that has contributed to Kurinec’s research group receiving a National Science Foundation Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research this year. She also traveled to the University of Texas, Austin, this past February to learn techniques to form molybdenum sulfide, considered a new, emerging 2D-semiconductor on silicon substrate and has initiated this work at RIT.

Note: Known as an outstanding teacher as well as researcher, Professor Renan Turkman developed advanced semiconductor processes and test facilities in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. He taught in RIT’s microelectronic and electrical engineering department from 1983 to 2001. In an unfortunate accident, he choked while dining, was later found unconscious and fell into a coma from which he never recovered. He passed away in 2008. “Renan was the most brilliant person I have ever worked with. He had the ability to digest technical papers at a rapid rate, the insight to identify crucial issues and the analytical capability to formulate solutions to some of the most difficult problems,” said Robert Pearson, director of the microelectronic engineering programs. “He was a great friend and a fellow soccer fan. While he is greatly missed, it is inspiring to look around at the legacy he has left as personified by the numerous Turkman Scholars. He would be very proud of them.”

Turkman Scholar awardees receive a monetary stipend toward tuition. Of the 13 previous awardees, 10 have earned, or are in the process of completing, doctoral degrees.