University of Tennessee
Materials Science & Engineering Department

Matthew Valderrama Receives Fulbright to study in Denmark
Knoxville, TN, March 12, 2024

Matthew Valderrama, a graduate of the Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) Department at the University of Tennessee (B.S., 2023) has received a Fulbright fellowship to study at Aalborg University in Denmark. He plans to pursue a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and provides funding for scholars to travel overseas, to perform research relevant to their discipline and to serve as cultural ambassadors. The elements of cultural awareness and sustainability are two topics that Matthew has been working on through-out his undergraduate time at the University of Tennessee.

On the cultural side, he led a team of MSE juniors on a research project to restore a 1907 reed organ, with an emphasis on comparing the modern, available replacement materials with the original, historical materials. Through-out this project, Matthew and the team worked to respect the cultural heritage embodied in the instrument. The project was a success and won first place at the 2022 EURēCA (Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement) annual poster competition at the University of Tennessee and second place in the national 2022 ASM Student Design competition. This work was published in the Journal of American Organbuilding in 2022.

On the sustainability side, Matthew worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Center for Renewable Carbon at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture under the mentorship of Prof. David Harper. As a senior he worked as part of a team on a project seeking to redesign fishing lures replacing currently-used plastics with biodegradable polymers and excluding toxic plasticizers.

Matthew has always been service oriented, receiving the 2023 MSE departmental service award for his numerous contributions both inside and outside the university community. His many experiences at the University of Tennessee allowed him to assemble a competitive application for the Fulbright and put him in good stead to make the most of his experience in Denmark.

Congratulations, Matthew! Good luck in Aalborg.

More photos on the Keffer research group site.