Amy Marconnet traveling to Germany to study lithium-ion batteries

Collaborating with international colleagues was a common occurrence before 2020, when lockdowns eliminated almost all international travel. As borders begin to re-open, no one is more excited than Amy Marconnet, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, who will soon depart for an extended research sabbatical in Germany, as part of the Humboldt Research Fellowship.

The Humboldt Research Fellowship funds international scientists to visit Germany for an extended period to conduct research at German institutions. Marconnet, who studies electronics cooling and thermal management, will be working at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). “Karlsruhe is like the Purdue of Germany: a big, highly respected, STEM-focused research institution,” said Marconnet. “Several of my colleagues have taken sabbaticals there, and our ME students go there as part of the GEARE program.”

At Karlsruhe, Marconnet will be working with the SiMET Group (Simulation of Mechanical-Electrical-Thermal Processes in Lithium-Ion Batteries), comprised of more than two dozen professors, postdoctoral researchers, and PhD students. She will be measuring the thermal properties of lithium-ion battery materials, both at the beginning and end of their life, to determine how they degrade over time. The SiMET Group has pre-aged some of the batteries through thousands of cycles of discharges, so she can have samples to study immediately.

“I’m looking forward to getting in the lab and doing some experiments,” said Marconnet. “I plan on sharing my techniques with them, and then hopefully also learn some of their techniques that can carry over into my lab here at Purdue.”

Travel Interrupted

Marconnet had long been planning a sabbatical, and submitted her application for the Humboldt in February 2020, just before the worldwide COVID lockdown. “I was talking with my hosts in Germany,” remembers Marconnet, “and we were all asking, ‘Is this going to be a thing in two weeks, or two months?’ Nobody knew.  They very graciously extended the opportunity until travel became possible. They also offered a virtual option, but I definitely wanted to be there in person – we’ve done way too many virtual things this year!”

If the borders stay open, Marconnet will be in Germany from August to November 2021, and then again from January to May 2022.  Of course, that’s a big if. “I watch the news in Germany every day, since the situation is constantly changing,” she said. “But even if they restrict leisure travelers, I have a research visa so I still plan on going. I’m vaccinated, so we can get to work as soon as I land.”

She’ll also be mentoring her Purdue graduate students from afar. “That actually seemed a lot more daunting before COVID,” Marconnet said. “But we all have experience now with Zoom meetings, so checking up on my students remotely will actually seem quite ‘normal’ for all of us.”

While her colleagues in Karlsruhe all speak English, Marconnet is nonetheless brushing up on her German. “I actually took four semesters of German in college,” she said, “but it’s been a while, so I am currently using Rosetta Stone and Duolingo to catch up!”

“It will be great to get into more hands-on work,” said Marconnet. “I like being a coach, but now I get to be a player again!”


Writer: Jared Pike,, 765-496-0374

Source: Amy Marconnet,