Q: What are your current research interests?
My research group and I work to understand how the microstructure of a material dictates how the material deforms and breaks, with an emphasis on additively manufactured metallic materials.
Q: What do you want the public to know about your research?
Why is your topic important? Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D Printing of a wide range of materials, including metals, polymers, and ceramics, is constantly evolving and advancing, and is a strongly multi-disciplinary field. Processing materials with AM, in a layer-by-layer fashion, allows for complex geometries to be created that cannot be manufactured with conventional methods, having application in lightweighting, custom biomedical implants, addressing supply chain issues, repair of legacy components, and numerous other applications.
Q: What do you hope students take with them from your classes?
My undergraduate class is on mechanical behavior of materials, and from this, I hope students understand the key mechanical properties of materials, how they are measured, and how the structure over a range of length scales dictates those properties. This will help them select materials for engineering applications or design new materials with improved functionality.
Q: What types of research or hands-on learning are available within your department?
A lot of groups in our department have positions for undergraduate students to perform research in their lab. This is a great opportunity to see how research works, learn from graduate students, and get a chance to see the applications of fundamentals taught in class.
Q: Do you offer opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research?
If yes, please describe briefly. Yes, I always have several undergraduate students performing research in my group during the school year and the summer. The undergraduates get trained on a number of hands-on techniques to investigate microstructure and mechanical properties of materials, then get linked up with a graduate student mentor to plan and evaluate research steps.
Q: What do you like most about mentoring students?
I enjoy mentoring and collaborating with students. I enjoy hearing their ideas, working with them for fruitful research paths, and watching them grow in understanding and confidence. I stay in touch with the group alumni, both undergraduates and grad students, and I very much enjoy learning about where they have gone, with many reaching back out for advice as they consider career path changes.
Q: Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I have an identical twin sister.
Q: Did you go to college with the intention of getting the job you have now? If not, briefly explain how you came to the position you're in now at the University.
No, in undergrad, I was not fully aware of graduate school as an option. I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory after graduating the from Mechanical Engineering Department at Penn State, then decided to go to graduate school. After graduating with my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, I performed a postdoc at Northwestern University, which solidified my desire to pursue a career in academia where I could merge research and teaching.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my two children – aged 2 and 4.
Q: Growing up, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be an engineer because I loved math and science as long as I can remember. In college, I really enjoyed physics and mechanics classes, so I continued the path of studying solid mechanics in graduate school.