For his “outstanding contributions” in engineering low-emission energy systems, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) honored UConn professor Chih-Jen “Jackie” Sung with the 2024 AIAA Energy Systems Award.
“Professor Sung is one of those rare individuals who are totally conversant in experiment, theory, and computation. His research interests not only straddle the physics of fluid flows and the chemistry of reaction kinetics—which are the foundational disciplines anchoring various forms of energy systems—but they also range from the fundamental to the applied,” said AIAA President Laura McGill, who presented Sung with the award on Jan. 10.
Sung, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor of Sustainable Energy, and professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Engineering, joined the faculty at UConn in 2009. Since then, and as head of the Combustion Research Group at UConn, he’s investigated various combustion and propulsion phenomena to gain insights into efficient and environmentally friendly combustion technologies.
“Jackie Sung is a world-renowned scholar and educator specializing in efficient combustion systems, with a focus on flame dynamics and low-temperature chemistry. As a key figure in our Combustion Research Group—one of the strongest in the country—within our School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Engineering, the depth and breadth of his experience will be pivotal in shaping the future direction of our School in research and education,” says Horea Ilies, professor and department head.
At UConn, Professor Sung’s research focuses on clean combustion, flame dynamics, oxidation chemistry of fuels, laser diagnostics, catalytic and supersonic combustion, high-pressure flame phenomena, soot formation, and computational simulations of complex combustion processes.
“This award is a reflection of the achievements and efforts made by all my dedicated graduate students and postdocs whom I have had the privilege to interact with over the years.” — Professor Jackie Sung
He has made research contributions to the dynamics and flammability of flames, the chemical kinetics of fuels oxidation, and practical device applications such as the scramjet, gas turbine, and reciprocating engines. In addition, his design of a rapid compression machine “is a breakthrough in the experimental studies of chemical kinetics,” says Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the College of Engineering.
Sung developed the unique compression machine to investigate the kinetics of combustion reactions at low temperatures. “When he developed this technique, it was one of the first such techniques and apparati that combustion researchers now use to probe into the chemistry of combustion reactions,” Kazerounian recalls.
In addition, Sung is the author of more than 200 publications on combustion, propulsion, and sustainable energy. His work contributes to the understanding of combustion phenomena and energy issues related to hydrogen, syngas, hydrocarbon, and bio-renewable fuels.
In addition to his scholarship, Sung is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); a fellow of the Combustion Institute; an associate fellow of the AIAA; member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering; member of the Editorial Board for Combustion Theory and Modelling; and founding faculty advisor of UConn’s AIAA Student Chapter.
Sung received his BS in mechanical engineering from the National Chiao Tung University in 1986, MSE in mechanical engineering from the National Taiwan University in 1988, and MA and Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1991 and 1994, respectively.
“Professor Sung’s research is at the forefront of combustion R&D, especially on topics related to energy sustainability and the environment,” McGill said. “He is quick to seize new opportunities in research, and interacts easily and effectively with colleagues from academia, industry, and the government, and through such relations forges collaborations.”
Professor Sung also has been an effective educator, having received many teaching awards, and has provided guidance and advising to over 55 graduate and post-doctoral students and over 100 undergraduates on their senior or independent research projects. He has been active in STEM outreach and is an active faculty advisor of the student chapter.
“I am very appreciative of this tremendous honor, but also humbled by it. It is truly rewarding to be recognized by your peers within the AIAA family,” Sung says. “This award is a reflection of the achievements and efforts made by all my dedicated graduate students and postdocs whom I have had the privilege to interact with over the years.”