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Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program

Graduate Student Directory

Danielle Bailey

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Sandra Rosenthal (Chemistry) & Dr. Qi Zhang (Pharmacology)
Research:  My research involves the biological application of quantum dots (QDs). QDs are semiconductor nanocrystals that are incredibly bright and resistant to photobleaching, size-tunable, and multifunctional, and they allow for incorporation of a variety of ligands on the surface. Because of these properties, QDs are ideal fluorescent probes to study protein dynamics in live cell applications. My work focuses on utilizing and developing various QD conjugation strategies to study how the serotonin transporter protein interacts with other proteins in primary serotonergic neurons. By studying these interactions in real time, I hope to shed light on the molecular underpinnings of psychiatric diseases such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Undergraduate: Samford University, Biochemistry

Jake Benzing

Thesis Advisors: Dr. James Wittig (Electrical Engineering) & Dr. Greg Walker (Mechanical Engineering)
Research: My research focuses on how strain rate affects mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms in single phase high-Mn steels and multi-phase medium-Mn steels, which possess superior mechanical energy absorption and balance cost for automotive applications. The ability to quantify heating effects during high speed mechanical testing and subsequent measurement of secondary deformation density requires meticulous planning and sample preparation. Advanced characterization techniques, based in electron microscopy, are necessary to evaluate these deformation mechanisms owing to the extremely fine nature of each structure’s nucleation and propagation.
Undergraduate: Ohio State University, Materials Science and Engineering

Matthew Breeding

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Sam Houston State University, Physics

Casey Brock

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Greg Walker (Mechanical Engineering)
Research: My research aims to improve computer simulations of materials at the atomic scale.  Many interesting properties of materials result from the behavior of electrons. However, the immense computational expense of electronic structure calculations necessitates approximations such as the pseudopotential, which is used for density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The pseudopotential essentially freezes core electrons and models only the valence electrons which are responsible for bonding characteristics. Currently, I am developing methods to generate high quality pseudopotentials demand for a user's specific application, potentially affording gains in accuracy and efficiency over generic pseudopotentials pulled from pseudopotential libraries.  
Undergraduate: Austin Peay State University, Physics

Tengfei Cao

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sharon Weiss (Electrical Engineering)
Research: My current research is focused on porous silicon based biosensing system. Porous silicon is a kind of very versatile materials with controllable nano scale pores. It can be used to fabricate various kinds of photonic structures. We employ these structures to build  biosensors. These sensors could potentially be fast-response, low cost, smartphone compatible and able to work on large scale inhomogeneous samples.
Undergraduate:  Fudan University, Electronic Science and Technology 

Yesol Ardis Choi 

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Vanderbilt University, Physics

Hannah Cornell 

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Wake Forest University, Chemistry

Anna Douglas

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Cary Pint (Mechanical Engineering) & Rizia Bardhan (Chemical Engineering)
Research:  My current research efforts are focused on the transformation of waste into functional nanomaterials.  I am currently focused on the electrochemical growth of carbon nanotubes from carbon dioxide, which combines decades of catalytic carbon nanotube growth research with a growing effort to convert carbon dioxide into stable, functional molecules.  Carbon nanotubes are simultaneously one of the most useful materials, and one of the most expensive, because of traditional manufacturing methods.  However, our electrochemical growth technique using carbon dioxide would not only give a secondary value to the waste greenhouse gas, but provides an economical route to producing functional carbon nanotubes.

Undergraduate: Lee University, Mathematics and Chemistry

Madeleine Fort

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Engineering Materials

Matthew Gerboth

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Greg Walker (Mechanical Engineering)
Research:  My research focuses on thermal transport at materials interfaces. In particular I am studying transport at interfaces mediated by van Der Waals interactions using computational techniques such as molecular dynamics (MD). Additionally I am developing techniques for determining phonon scattering rates, which are fundamental to thermal transport, from MD simulations using standing waves. Insights gained from these investigations can be applied to develop materials for highly efficient energy and computational device applications.
Undergraduate: Washington State University, Materials Science and Engineering

Justin Gilmer

Thesis Advisor: Clare McCabe (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Clemson University, Materials Science and Engineering

Brice Harkey 

Thesis Advisor: Kelsey Hatzell (Mechanical Engineering)
Undergraduate: University of Southern Mississippi, Polymer Science and Engineering

Kristina Kitko

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Qi Zhang (Pharmacology) & Dr. Yaqiong Xu (Electrical Engineering)
Research: My research aims are based upon biological application of a graphene-based sensor, which includes characterizing the properties of biomaterials grown on graphene. My work combines our graphene biosensor with both pharmacological and optogenetic control, where neurons are genetically encoded to respond to optical stimulation, to study signaling in small networks in the hippocampus. My goal is to begin to deconvolve synaptic signal integration with high spatio-temporal resolution, which will inform the understanding of an umbrella of diseases and dysfunctions facing modern neuroscience.
Undergraduate: Vanderbilt University, Mechanical Engineering

Kan Li

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Wuhan University of Technology, Materials Science and Engineering
Masters:  Rice University, Materials Science and Nano Engineering  

Yuanzhe Liang

Thesis Advisor: Shihong Lin (Civil Engineering)
Beijing University of Chemical Technology
Masters: Case Western Reserve University, Macromolecular Science and Engineering

Claire Marvinney

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Richard Haglund (Physics) & Dr. Sandra Rosenthal (Chemistry)
Zinc oxide nanostructures are studied for their potential in all optical and optoelectronic applications, from on-chip lasers and waveguides, to biological sensors and scintillators. Here I have studied the ZnO UV band-edge emission's dependence on surface conditions, localized electric fields, nanostructure, phonon modes, and defects. Vertical oriented "carpet" ZnO nanowires are an ideal candidate for on-chip waveguides and nanolasers, with their strong UV emission and lack of defects, while the free-form ZnO "nanopopcorn" is ideal for sensing applications due to its larger surface area and stronger exciton-phonon coupling. Plasmon-exciton coupling and core-shell nanowire optical cavity mode formation both lead to enhanced UV emission in the ZnO nanowires, leading the way to future efficient UV device designs.
Undergraduate: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Physics

Joesph Matson 

Thesis Advisor: Josh Caldwell (Mechanical Engineering)
Hendrix College, Physics

Kevin Miller

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Sharon Weiss (Electrical Engineering) & Richard Haglund (Physics)
Currently, my research is focused on the design, fabrication, and characterization of nanoscale devices for integrated silicon photonics. Specifically, I am working on silicon - vanadium dioxide ring resonator devices with the goal of achieving rapid switching speeds with minimal device footprint.
: Valparaiso University, Physics

Kate Moyer

Thesis Advisors: Cary Pint (Mechanical Engineering) & Dr. Rizia Bardhan (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
My current research efforts focus on developing new methods and materials to engineer lower cost, high performing energy storage devices devices, such as lithium ion batteries (LIBs). I'm using alternative manufacturing methods such as electrophoretic deposition to develop high areal performance cathodes using alternative solvent processing and low-cost, non-toxic materials such as lithium iron phosphate. I am also investigating different battery architectures, such as an anode free design to further enhance the lifetime and cyclability of LIBs. 
Stevens Institute of Technology, Chemical Engineering

Nitin Muralidharan

Thesis Advsior: Dr. Cary Pint (Mechanical Engineering)
Research: The current focus of my research is on direct integration of tailored tunable hierarchical nanostructures on a NiTi shape memory superelastic alloy for energy storage applications. Nitinol (NiTi alloy) is a shape memory superelastic alloy with a variety of applications ranging from structural reinforcements, biomedical implants, smart sensors and heat engines. Integrating the capability to store energy on the surface of the alloy and selectively tuning the energy storage capability using hierarchical nanostructures is the major focus of my current research. The energy storage capability is imparted to the alloy by controlled surface engineering processes which create hierarchical pseudocapacitive nanostructures on the surface of the alloy. Apart from this, I am also working on fabricating transient pseudocapacitors and batteries using atomic layer deposition and isolating strain dependent processes in electrochemical energy storage devices.
Undergraduate: Anna University, Chemical Engineering
Masters: University of Cincinnati, Materials Science

Ryan Nolen

Thesis Advisor: Josh Caldwell (Mechanical Engineering)
Lipscomb University, Mechanical Engineering 

Brian OGrady

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Leon Bellan (Mechanical Engineering)
University of Texas San Antonio, Biology
University of Texas San Antonio, Biology

Liudmyla Prozorovska

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Piran Kidambi (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyyiv Polytechnic Institute", Metallurgy
Masters: National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyyiv Polytechnic Institute", Special Metallurgy

Mahmud Reaz 

First Year Student 
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
Masters: Missouri State University, Materials Science 

Kemar Reid

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sandra Rosenthal (Chemistry)
College of Wooster, Mathematics
Masters: Fisk University, Physics

Keith Share

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Cary Pint (Mechanical Engineering) & Dr. Sharon Weiss (Electrical Engineering)
Research: My research focuses on energy storage devices such as supercapacitors and sodium ion batteries with the goal of understanding and developing new materials that have better performance, easier processing, and are less expensive than current technologies. I'm using materials like transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and graphene coated porous silicon to engineer new electrodes with nano-scale morphologies. My work also involves designing electrodes from materials using atomic layer deposition (ALD) which provides atom layer control of the thickness.
Tufts University, Chemical Engineering

Nathan Spear 

First Year Student
Purdue University, Materials Science 

Andrew Tonigan

Thesis Advisors: Ron Schrimpf (Electrical Engineering) & Greg Walker (Mechanical Engineering)
Research:  My research revolves around radiation and temperature effects observed in solid-state materials and devices. I work with well-characterized electronic components (cmos/bipolar devices, LEDs, capacitors, etc.) and phosphors to measure atomic displacement damage and ionizing dose as they lead to macroscopic changes in material/device properties. I am interested in improving our ability to predict and understand the susceptibility of electronic components and systems to radiation by coupling device physics and radiation physics simulations. Another one of my projects is the development of an ASTM test method that uses bipolar junction transistors to determine the magnitude of displacement damage created in electronic materials by bombardment with neutrons and protons.
Undergraduate: University of New Mexico, Nuclear Engineering

Kody Wolfe 

First Year Student
Undergraduate: Ohio University, Chemical Engineering

You Zhou

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Jason Valentine (Mechanical Engineering) 
Sun Yat-Sen University, Optical Information Science and Technology