Doctoral Student Lauded for Materials Research
Jan. 18, 2012
UT Dallas doctoral student Muge Acik was recently named a silver award winner at the Materials Research Society’s meeting for excellence in academic achievements and materials research.
Graduate students from universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Johns Hopkins competed at the Society’s national conference, which is held twice a year.
Acik’s research focuses on the engineering and chemistry of carbon materials, including graphene oxide sheets. By better understanding the material, it is hoped that new materials can be created to improve electronic devices and energy storage.
Acik’s application included information about her research and a recommendation letter summarizing her academic background. Competitors presented their research in the final step of the competition.
“It was a very competitive process, but that’s the reason I applied,” Acik said. “I wanted to complete my personal achievements in graduate school by comparing my research with materials science and engineering graduate students from other universities.”
In 2010, Acik and her colleagues at UT Dallas published an article in the journal Nature Materials detailing research on single sheets of reduced graphene oxide and how they responded to high temperatures. This work uncovered unusual optical properties.
Hundreds of students apply to attend and present their work at the conference. Acik was one of only 25 selected as Graduate Student Award winners.
She said she was motivated by Professor Manish Chhowalla at Rutgers University, whom she worked for on a collaborative research project. She was also encouraged to apply by her mentor at UT Dallas, Dr. Yves J. Chabal.
“Her selection among the top Stanford, Harvard, Princeton and MIT students underscores the quality of the materials science students at UT Dallas,” said Chabal, head of the Materials Science and Engineering Department and Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics. “It also highlights the competiveness of UT Dallas among the best of the Tier One universities.”
Acik's doctoral work at UT Dallas has been supported in part by Texas Instruments. She will pursue a career as a process engineer at TI after she completes her degree.