Michael Ruggiero is a chemist who uses an array of analytical tool to understand how atomic-level dynamics influence the bulk physical properties of materials. Michael's research is wide-ranging, but one goal is to discover the microscopic mechanisms behind important ecological issues such as toxic chemical separation and breakdown mechanisms of microplastic pollutants.
Michael is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and a member of the Materials Science graduate program. Michael's group is highly interdisciplinary, encompassing chemistry, physics, and computer science, and his graduate trainees gain experience in many areas during their individual projects. The primary focus of his research is the application of low-frequency vibrational spectroscopy to materials, specifically terahertz time-domain spectroscopy and low-frequency Raman spectroscopy. These laser-based optical techniques enable a detailed understanding of subtle molecular-level motions; motions that play a critical role in the function and behavior of bulk materials. Two areas of interest are the development and characterization of porous materials, which have been used as a tool for toxic chemical removal, separations, and even water harvesting applications. The other is understanding the mechanisms behind microplastic degradation, which will play a pivotal role in furthering our understanding of why plastics pollutants do – and don’t – breakdown in the environment.
Michael is internationally recognized for his work with low-frequency vibrational spectroscopy and computational simulations to understand the behavior of materials. He was named to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 class, received an early-career award from the international Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves (IRMMW-THz) society in 2019, and was named one of the Best Users of the ARCHER Supercomputer in 2017. He currently has funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Chemical Society (ACS).