In Recognition of Outstanding Contributions

Phineas Lehan, 2024 Hynes-Wood Award recipient
Sunday, June 9, 2024

Phineas Lehan, a chemical engineering major, has received the College of Engineering’s 2024 Hynes-Wood Award, which recognizes a student for outstanding contributions to student activities and helping others with professional growth and development. The award is named for Jacqueline Hynes, former assistant dean for academic programs in engineering, and the late Roger Wood, a beloved electrical and computer engineering professor and former associate dean for academic affairs. 
“I am proud that I helped to inspire and teach the next generation of engineers,” said Lehan, who graduated from Half Moon Bay High School. “I am thankful for all of the opportunities to develop and display my passion for engineering and research.”
For nearly three years, Lehan has worked as an undergraduate researcher for chemical engineering professor and current department chair Michael Gordon, investigating metasurfaces and clean hydrogen production. Last November, he presented his research during the AVS International Symposium.
“Performing undergraduate research in Professor Gordon’s lab helped me realize that I want to do research and development well into the future,” said Lehan. “Despite being an undergraduate, he gave me a lot of freedom to design my own experiments and build my own reactor setups.”
In addition to undergraduate research, Lehan also interned and later started working as a technical staff member at the Nanofabrication Facility, the university’s state-of-the-art cleanroom and innovation center. He also spent a summer conducting research at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, as part of a program overseen by UCSB’s Materials Research Laboratory. Lehan also assisted students taking lower-division engineering courses throughout his time at UCSB.
“I’m proudest when I see the students that I mentor take initiative,” said Lehan, who also served as an officer of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and captain of the UCSB Chess Team. “My proudest moment was when a first-year student interested in research approached me after a class I helped teach. I told him about the projects in the Gordon lab, and how to get involved. A month later, he was working alongside me in the lab.”
Lehan expressed his thanks to Gordon, Oleksander Polonskyi, a postdoctoral researcher in Gordon’s lab, and Graham Reitz, a graduate student in the group, for their advice, for teaching him how to succeed in a research environment, and for inspiring him to further his education. After graduation, Lehan will begin pursuing a PhD in materials science at Caltech.
“I had some of the greatest mentors during my undergraduate years, who not only guided and supported my research and studies, but inspired me to challenge myself further and ultimately led to me choosing to pursue a PhD,” said Lehan. “UCSB has provided me with a broad pool of knowledge that allows me to approach and solve research problems from many different angles, which is vital for innovation.”
Lehan says that staying busy through school has helped him cope with the tragic passing of his older brother, Maxwell Lehan, who passed away last October at the age of 25. His brother’s five-year old daughter, Ruby, will be in the stands watching Phineas graduate and receive this award on stage.
“Ruby has been my biggest inspiration throughout college,” said Lehan. “I will do everything that I can to help her succeed in her education.”

News Type: 

Awards and Accolades