How did you decide to come to Drexel Materials for a Ph.D.?
Prior to studying materials, I was working as an aircraft mechanic. A lot of the mechanical failures I saw were actually at their heart materials issues such as vibration cracking, wear and corrosion issues, etc. So I enrolled in materials science and engineering as an undergraduate. After a co-op with Pratt and Whitney (aircraft engine manufacturer) where I worked closely with the materials R&D team, I decided that I wanted to focus on research rather than finding an engineering job.
First Job Post-Graduation
Post-doctoral researcher with the Materials Science in Radiation and Dynamic Extremes Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. My research was focused on probabilistic models for crystal plasticity in hexagonal close packed metals. Later I switched to performing in-situ mechancal testing using synchrotron X-rays at the Advanced Photon Source.
How did you find your first job?
I was recruited by a PI (Principal Investigator) at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
What have you been doing since?
I will be starting as a faculty member at The Ohio State University in fall 2013 in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
How do you feel your Ph.D. research and education have contributed to your job?
The biggest thing I learned during my Ph.D. was that you can't be rigid or inflexible in your thinking or interests. I changed topics quite drastically between my Ph.D. work and post-doc, however, having a firm grounding on how to develop a research topic made this easy. I think this flexibility is really important if you are going to be successful as a researcher. You have to follow your nose, so to speak, work with new people, and play with new ideas. As an early career professional, you can't be scared to jump into a new area.
Do you have any advice for students looking for a Ph.D. program or for current students?
1) You are going to spend the next 4-6 years working with your advisor and married to a topic. If you have problems with your advisor or your research topic, try to work it out sooner rather than later. I have met too many people who spent six years hating their lives because they didn't get along with their advisor, but were afraid to do anything about it.
2) Follow your instinct—chances are you are correct. You are the expert (it might not feel like it, yet).