Materials Science Researchers Start Student Group
Mar. 29, 2013
Students from the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UT Dallas have formed the only student chapter of an international professional organization in the state – and one of only a few such chapters in the country.
Dr. Amy Walker was elected to the AVS board of directors. Walker researches methods for constructing metalized organic surfaces.
AVS – a professional society dedicated to the science and technology of materials, interfaces and processing – has about 4,500 members worldwide from academia, governmental laboratories and industry. There are fewer than 10 student chapters in the entire United States.
Organizers decided to call the group the AVS Dallas Metroplex Student Chapter to signify the inclusive nature of an organization that will grow to accept members from other Dallas-area universities.
The idea of forming a student chapter at UT Dallas took off after a strong showing of UT Dallas capabilities and influence at the AVS 59th International Symposium and Exhibition. Dr. Amy Walker, associate professor of materials science and engineering, was elected to the board of directors at the event last fall. In addition, Dr. Yves Chabal, head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and two students received awards.
Dr. Katy Roodenko received an AVS award for a presentation about research she has conducted at UT Dallas.
Tatiana Peixoto, shown with Dr. Yves Chabal, is a materials science and engineering doctoral candidate and president of the student AVS club at UT Dallas.
“We had discussed the idea before and started looking into the requirements after attending the symposium,” said Tatiana Peixoto, a doctoral candidate in Chabal’s lab and president of the student chapter.
The AVS Dallas Metroplex Student Chapter became official this semester.
“The goal of the chapter is to provide professional development and interaction for our members by hosting speakers from both industry and academia to speak about their areas of expertise,” Peixoto said. “In the near future, we seek to form a network and long-lasting relationships with the neighboring universities, as well as nearby companies.” Walker, who is the group's advisor, said the student members gain valuable experience.
“For the University, it’s another way to showcase our talent,” she said.
Walker, who started the Texas chapter of AVS, said UT Dallas has long had a solid presence in AVS. She cites Dr. Robert “Bob” Wallace, professor of materials science and engineering, and his longtime involvement with the organization as an example.
Wallace and other UT Dallas faculty members, including Dr. Chris Hinkle, Dr. K.J. Cho and Dr. Manuel Quevedo-Lopez, are highly visible in the organization and give invited lectures.
At the symposium, AVS presented Chabal with its highest honor: the Medard W. Welch Award for his exceptional studies of vibrations at surfaces. Chabal donated the $6,500 award for the second term of the Young Women in Science and Engineering Investigators (YWISEI) Program created by the University’s Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.
Dr. Katy Roodenko, who conducted postdoctoral research in Chabal’s lab, won an award for a presentation on her research that uses spectroscopic ellipsometry to determine the optical properties of aggregated molecules. Researchers hope the work will help them understand how to make more efficient devices such as solar cells, light-emitting devices and sensors. The work was performed in collaboration with lab members of Dr. Anton Malko, assistant professor of physics at UT Dallas.
“For me, the important part was to present the findings resulting from this exciting collaboration,” Roodenko said. “It was nice that the award came along.”
She now serves as a scientist at IntelliEpi, where she works on characterization of the optical and electrical properties of materials under development.
Dr. Nour Nijem, a student from Dr. Chabal’s lab who received the David E. Daniel Graduate Fellowship, won an AVS award.
“AVS is about materials interfaces and processes,” said Walker, who researches methods for constructing metalized organic surfaces, which in turn will create new technology that could be used to create new electronic devices or medical sensors to more efficiently diagnose and treat disease.
“While some groups specialize in one type of material, UT Dallas has expertise in bringing different types of materials together for not only semiconductors, but also biotechnology, sensors and organic electronics,” Walker said. “The creation of the first AVS student chapter in the state is another recent example of our strength in the field and influence within AVS.”
Learn more about the AVS Dallas Metroplex Student Chapter at the organization's website online.
Students work on a project as part of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at UT Dallas.
Program Benefits From Prof’s Gift
The goal of the Young WISE Investigators (YWISEI) Program is to inspire and encourage students at Hillcrest High School and Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School in Dallas ISD to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Created by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, with continued support from the Texas Instruments Foundation, the program provides mentoring and support for 12 high school students over a one-year period to complete a science and engineering research project.
The program was made possible by Dr. Yves Chabal’s initial donation from an ACS Award for Encouraging Women in careers in chemical sciences, and matches from the Dreyfus Foundation and the Texas Instruments Foundation.
“We’ve been inspired to pursue careers in the STEM fields thanks to this opportunity,” said Jazmin Tule, a senior at Irma Rangel high school who is researching how to charge a cell phone without wires. “If you don’t have an outlet or your charger, it might be possible to use inductive charging to keep your phone from losing power.”
Other research projects include Jocelyn Esparza’s attempt to make homes and building safer.
“I’m trying to create fire-resistant wood. It could stop a fire in the kitchen from spreading, or slow down the flames to allow rescue workers to arrive. It could save lives,” Esparza said.
The program seeks to reward top young women STEM achievers by awarding a scholarship to UT Dallas to the top three student performers. A team of mentors comprised of the high school teachers, UT Dallas students and professors and STEM industry professionals are guiding the students through the project development cycle.