I am a recent graduate in materials engineering at the University of Kentucky, planning to pursue a career in materials research. I was born and raised in southeast Michigan, where I became an ardent fan of the Michigan Wolverines, and developed an appropriate disdain for THE Ohio State University. I graduated from Andover High School (now Bloomfield Hills High School), where I studied some, played the french horn, hung out in wood shop, and played soccer/volleyball/basketball/softball. I was pretty hopeless at learning Spanish, but did alright otherwise.
I chose to attend the University of Kentucky because I visited when UK won the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, and the atmosphere was just incredible. My high school didn't have a lot of 'school pride', so that was very important to me when deciding a college. I started off wanting to double major in Chemical and Materials Engineering, but eventually dropped Chemical because I wasn't all that interested in process engineering. Midway through my sophomore year, I started a year long co-op at DuPont (now the Chemours Company). I had a great time, but it really cemented my decision to avoid the chemical industry upon graduation.
Once I got settled back in, I got more into my MSE major courses, and had an absolute blast! I loved the wide variety of topics I got to study - chemistry, thermo, physics, mechanics - as well as all the hands-on lab work. I even loved it so much that I joined Dr. John Balk's research group, and started doing independent work. My first project was such a difficult experience. I was completely alone, without instructions, and forced to generate and defend my own ideas. Then I learned - that's what research is! Trying, failing, frustration, trying, failing, frustration, trying, succeeding, fleeting moment of joy/pride/exhilaration, trying, failing - so on and so forth. That project really opened my eyes to how rewarding a career in research could be, and that is what I've been pursuing ever since.
In my last semester of undergrad, I joined Dr. Matthew J. Beck's computational materials science research group. I am very interested in the power of computation, and was very excited to learn how to apply these methods to materials research. I learned Finite Element Analysis and studied crystal plasticity. Mechanical behavior is my favorite topic in materials science, so this project was perfect for me! I eventually attended ICMEd '17 where I learned fundamentals of many more computational materials techniques under the guidance of Dr. Katsuyo Thornton (UMich) and Dr. Mark Asta (UC Berkeley), as well as numerous other wonderful instructors.
Throughout my undergraduate career, I was heavily involved in education and outreach. I TA'd for multiple lower level materials science courses, which was a great deal of fun as I got to get to know the younger students and help them through their first exposure to so many important MSE concepts. I also organized outreach events (materials demos, tours, promo video) for college freshmen all the way down to elementary schoolers to show off materials science and engineering in general. I have also been a proud member of the Society of Women Engineers since my first semester at UK. I held multiple officer positions in the UK chapter, and am currently a Society of Women Engineers Future Leader, which is a program for SWE members interested in eventually taking on executive positions in the national organization.
Upon graduating with my B.S. I did a gap year to conduct full time research at the University of Michigan. I was lucky enough to be offered a position in Dr. Thornton's group, and had a fantastic year! I studied coarsening and strontium segregation in LSCF solid oxide fuel cell electrodes. While my experience at ICMEd '17 really piqued my interest in computation, I am so thankful this gap year gave me the opportunity to really decide whether it is something I would enjoy doing in graduate school and thereafter. I joined ASM's Detroit chapter, and loved meeting so many hometown materials nerds.
I am currently a graduate research assistant in the Beck Research Group at the University of Kentucky. I am doing atomistic calculations to characterize the surface of scandate cathodes at their high operating temperature. I am also working on related experiments with collaborators, the Balk Research Group. I am also continuing my undergraduate work on modeling random structures.
Eventually, I would like to combine my love of materials research and materials education into a career in academia. More specifically on the research side, I would like to use both computational and experimental tools to study mechanical behavior, fracture and fatigue, and alloy theory. I also want to work to get more young people (especially traditionally underrepresented groups) interested in a career in engineering.
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