Women in STEM

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.

Roopali Kukreja wins DOE Early Career Award

Materials science and engineering assistant professor Roopali Kukreja has received a prestigious Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE early career award, now in their 12th year, recognize and support the research of early-career outstanding scientists and engineers in the U.S. The award provides graduate student support, summer salary and research expenses intended to last five years.

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.

Undergraduate research in Kukreja Lab outlines novel nano-diffraction analysis method

Materials science and engineering (MSE) former undergraduate researcher Joyce Christiansen-Salameh has developed a new way to analyze complex x-ray nano-diffraction datasets using a k-means clustering algorithm. The program iteratively groups data points by clustering pixels with similar intensity within a certain distance on the detector, which makes it easier to find the Bragg peaks that reveal the structure.

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.

Applying machine learning to renewable energy

Materials science and engineering associate professor Marina Leite thinks machine learning is key to the next big breakthrough in renewable energy. With a new three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Leite will use machine learning techniques to study perovskite solar cells, a class of highly efficient but volatile devices, to find the optimal conditions to run them reliably.

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.