New MSE Awards Support Graduate Research and Education

uc davis materials science engineering graduate student awards
Materials science and engineering (MSE) doctoral student Luis Sotelo Martin is the recipient of the Jeffery and Marsha Gibeling Materials Science and Engineering Fellowship, one of three new fellowships available for MSE graduate students.

By Bonnie Dickson

The UC Davis Department of Materials Science and Engineering recently established several new fellowships and awards to support graduate engineering research and education. Luis Sotelo Martin, a first-year doctoral student in the department, is the first recipient of a graduate student researcher award generously funded by Jeffery and Marsha Gibeling.

Luis grew up in Elkhart, Indiana and moved to West Lafayette in 2014, where he began his college studies at Purdue University. He graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a minor in mathematics.

Luis chose to study engineering in college after excelling in math and chemistry in high school. He says he was also drawn to engineering after seeing the impact that engineering research and development can have on the world.

He decided to continue his education at UC Davis after learning about the materials science and engineering research being conducted by faculty. He had also met UC Davis engineering alumni through his involvement with national Latino organizations and was impressed with the caliber of the students who graduated from UC Davis engineering programs.

The availability of awards like the Jeffery and Marsha Gibeling Materials Science and Engineering Award also influenced Luis’ decision to join the Materials Science and Engineering doctoral program at UC Davis.

“The Gibeling award made me feel welcome at UC Davis,” Luis said. “It also makes me feel as if the faculty and donors really do want me here and will support me even if I experience hardships during the program.”

In addition to his doctoral research, Luis is involved with the Chicano and Latino Engineers and Scientists Society of UC Davis (CALESS), the UC Davis Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Graduate Student Organization and the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. Luis also remains engaged with MAES: Latinos in Science and Engineering – originally the Mexican American Engineering Society – as the organization’s former national student representative.

Luis expects to complete his Ph.D. in 2022 and then pursue a job in research and development.

Two additional fellowships were awarded in early 2019. Second-year Ph.D. student Dayane Marques Oliveira received the Enrique Lavernia Fellowship in Materials Science, funded by multiple members of the Dean’s Executive Committee to honor former College of Engineering Dean Laverina. The Erhardt and Takamura Family Fellowship, funded by Professor Yayoi Takamura and her husband Jeffrey Erhardt, was awarded to two Ph.D. students—Erdem Eren and Yiquing Xia.

Ranked 26th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2019, the UC Davis Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers a unique graduate experience—state-of-the-art research facilities combined with one-on-one faculty mentoring. UC Davis values the student experience and the diversity that each student brings, and is committed to recruiting students with a variety of personal experiences, values and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance.

For more information on how you can support graduate fellowships in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Davis, visit