Brigid Mullany and Terry Xu, faculty members of the Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte, have each won $400,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards, which help advance the careers of junior faculty. Both have been in UNC Charlotte’s mechanical engineering and engineering science department since 2004. Mullany, who has a PhD from University College Brigid Mullany (left) and Terry Xu Dublin, Ireland, is researching precision polishing techniques. Highly precise polishing, to the point of subnanometer smoothness, is vital to advance optical, lithography and laser technology. "Currently, the majority of the process control and monitoring lies with the highly skilled technicians who run the polishing machines,” Mullany said. “I’m working to supplement their expertise by better characterizing the pitch used in making the polishing tools." Xu, who has a PhD from Northwestern University, is studying a new class of boron-based one-dimensional nanostructures for thermoelectric power generation applications. “Discoveries resulting from this work will ultimately lead to the creation of a new class of boron-based thermoelectric nanostructures, which will play an important role in meeting the future energy challenge,” she said.