Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Sevag Momjian

The natural curiosity about the world Sevag Momjian '22 has always had led him to materials science and engineering, and he's excited to help the field realize its potential to solve some of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century.

Student Spotlight: Chad Serrao

After completing a bachelor's degree in philosophy, Chad Serrao '22 decided to go back to school to pursue engineering and became hooked on materials science and engineering and looks forward to playing a role in using the field to build a sustainable future.

Student Spotlight: Avery Adams

Avery Adams '22 was drawn to materials science and engineering because of the versatility of the field that allows her to do both experimental and applied work for a wide range of fields.

Student Spotlight: Pooja Rao

Pooja Rao '22 thought she would get her B.S. and immediately leave academia, but she developed a love for research as part of Assistant Professor Roopali Kukreja's group and decided to continue her studies as a master's student.

Faculty Spotlight: Marina Leite

I did my undergrad in chemistry and Ph.D. in physics, both in Brazil. While a Ph.D. student, I was a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart (Germany) and at the Department of Applied Physics at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) working with semiconductor materials. I started working with solar cells when I was a post-doctoral scholar at Caltech between 2008 and 2011. After a 2-year appointment at NIST, I moved to the University of Maryland as an assistant professor, and then became an associate professor. I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a UC Davis Chancellor's Fellow.

Faculty Spotlight: Yayoi Takamura

I received my B.S. from Cornell University in 1998 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in 2000 and 2004, respectively, all in Materials Science and Engineering. I was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley with Professor Yuri Suzuki in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering before joining the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UC Davis in July 2006. After serving as Vice-Chair from 2017-2020, I became the first female chair of the department at UC Davis in July 2020.

Student Spotlight: Ethan Suwandi

One of materials science and engineering major Ethan Suwandi’s favorite things to do is “nerd out” about materials with his friends, classmates and professors at UC Davis.

“It’s very cathartic, at least for me,” he said. “Materials is a niche topic that you can’t discuss with many people, so I think all of us would take the chance to say, ‘look at this cool thing I found’ or ‘look at this cool thing I’m researching and let me tell you all about the mechanisms behind it!’”

Student Spotlight: Griffin Hart

Recent materials science and engineering graduate Griffin Hart ’21 used UC Davis to try college a second time and was able to make the most of his experience.

Hart started college at Humboldt State University, but didn’t know what he wanted to do. This made him feel unmotivated and that was reflected in his grades, so he moved home and enrolled in community college. He became interested in sustainability and through his calculus, physics and chemistry classes, he began to see how much he could do with math and science.

Alumni Spotlight: Valerie Gibson ’86, ‘00

Valerie Gibson ’86, ‘00 has forged a successful career in the aerospace industry through her passion and experience with materials science and engineering she acquired at UC Davis.

Gibson is a principal propulsion engineer in the engine group at Blue Origin, a private aerospace manufacturing company founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The company is a leader in the private spaceflight industry and made headlines in summer 2021 with its first crewed suborbital flight.

MSE Celebrates the Career of Professor Sangtae Kim

June 2022 Update

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Sangtae Kim. He is remembered as a wonderful colleague, an expert in defect chemistry and electrochemistry, an inspiring instructor and an amazing goalie in the department’s student/faculty soccer games.

Student Spotlight: Miranda Bell

Fourth-year materials science and engineering (MSE) major Miranda Bell’s experience at UC Davis was defined by a little of everything as she narrowed down her broad interests while learning how the world works.

Student Spotlight: Nicole Shuman

Fourth-year materials science and engineering (MSE) major Nicole Shuman found materials science as a returning college student and is determined to use her knowledge to inspire others through outreach, teaching and mentorship.

Shuman started her career managing a multimillion-dollar big box retail company in the Los Angeles area. After 15 years, she moved to the Sacramento area for a job, but it fell through, and she found herself missing the connections she had and looking for a new opportunity.

Ricardo Castro and the Science of Superheroes

Materials science and engineering (MSE) professor Ricardo Castro may not be as much of a “mad scientist” as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but he does dare to ask intriguing questions like, “why must Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir) be thought of as a fictional item, unachievable in the real world?”

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Beeman ‘17

Materials science and engineering alumna Emily Beeman ’17 draws on her UC Davis experience every day as she helps keep UC Berkeley’s Marvell Nanofabrication Lab running.

Student Spotlight: Yiqing Xia

Materials science and engineering (MSE) Ph.D. student Yiqing Xia has been chosen as a presenter for the 2021 North American Materials Colloquium Series, a competitive virtual materials science seminar series involving over 35 MSE programs from around the country. He will present his recent research on the thermodynamic and kinetic behavior of nano-confined liquids on April 8-9, representing UC Davis, the MSE department and his research on confined liquids and glassy materials.

Student Spotlight: Weidi Zhu

Recent materials science and engineering (MSE) Ph.D. graduate Weidi Zhu had never worked with glasses before coming to UC Davis, but through research projects with Blacutt-Underwood Professor Sabyasachi Sen, he developed an interest in the material that turned into a career with Apple. As the world becomes “smart,” Zhu hopes to use what he learned at UC Davis to contribute to the science behind the glassy materials that will become increasingly important to the world.

Student Spotlight: Raegan Taylor

For fourth-year materials science and engineering major Raegan Taylor, engineering is a means to understand and contribute to the world around her. Driven by a desire to help people, she has used her curiosity about the world and her research experience to build a strong foundation in engineering as she pursues a career in optical engineering.

“I see engineering as an avenue to learn about the world and round out my interests in a way that’s beneficial to other people,” she said.

Student Spotlight: Louie Zhong

Fourth-year materials science and engineering major Louie Zhong looks to the ultra-small and ultrafast to make a big impact on the world. Though he has always liked math, engineering and chemistry, Zhong explains his interest in materials science with the James Joyce quote, “In the particular is contained the universal.” Ever since a high school teacher introduced him to the quote, it’s become a way for him to think about his interest in materials, and in science in general.