uc davis materials science engineering undergraduate spotlight justin mulvey
Photo: Lucy Knowles/UC Davis.

Student Spotlight: Justin Mulvey

Justin Mulvey is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In his time at UC Davis, he has been heavily involved on campus, in the MSE department and as a researcher in professor Adam Moule's research group.

Justin’s project focuses on increasing the efficiency of organic solar cells by patterning the back surface of the devices with micro/nanoscale features to capture more light. These patterns are etched into the active layer of the cell by projecting a laser through an optical photomask, which ensures only selective regions of the device are patterned by the laser. His main focus has been working on a mechanical system to consistently align and focus the photomask onto the films surface for patterning. 

In his two years as a researcher Justin has attended and presented research at the 2018 Boston Materials Research Society (MRS) conference and also contributed as an author on a Moule group publication. 

 “I really enjoy doing research,” he said. “You can try to solve a problem 20 different ways and it doesn’t work, but you’re constantly building and building towards success, which I think is really fulfilling.”

Justin was originally interested in chemical engineering when he started at UC Davis, but turned to materials science and engineering because he preferred to work with solid-state materials instead of gases and fluids. “The word ‘science’ in ‘materials science and engineering’ goes a long way,” he said. “I really liked learning about how certain mechanisms work in materials and the science behind it.”

He likes the intimacy of the MSE department. Not only are his lectures smaller, but he has also gotten to know a majority of the MSE faculty on a personal level, finding that they are more available for office hours than some of his other professors.

Justin has been an officer in the Material Advantage Student chapter at UC Davis (MASC) for the past three years, working a lot with outreach. He has visited several local elementary schools to introduce students to materials science and engineering, given talks about his research and the MSE undergraduate program at UC Davis Decision Day and coordinated MASC’s annual Picnic Day magic show.

After he graduates in spring 2019, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science in engineering at UC Irvine, focusing on electronic properties of materials and organic materials. He plans to one day become a faculty member at a university, as he enjoys both the research and communication sides of materials science and engineering.

Outside of class, Justin is an avid rock climber and slacklining enthusiast. He is the co-manager of the UC Davis rock climbing wall in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and spends many weekends climbing in Yosemite and Bishop

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