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Materials Science Featured Faculty

What are you doing in the featured picture?

We're using a transmission electron microscope (TEM) to look at the structure of silver nanocubes that were synthesized in my lab by a student (Chemistry major Dan Decato). 

What kind of research do you do?

Our current project is poised at the interface of materials science and chemistry. The research is focused on the synthesis of nanomaterials with well defined surface chemistry. Nanotech has really taken off in the past couple of decades, with a myriad of proposed applications in electronics, optics, medical diagnostics, cancer detection and treatment, greener fuels and catalysis…. but if we are unable to precisely control the chemistry of nanomaterials (which dictates much of what the particles can do) we can't fully complete their journey from the edges of scientific frontier to mainstream technology.

How are students involved in you research?

While I design the projects and guide their research efforts, the students actively carry out the work on a daily basis and push our knowledge forward. Each student has their own specific project that relates to a larger goal. Because the work is really a collaboration, the students have taken ownership of the work- not simply carrying out prescribed experiments, but also spending hours studying current science literature and incorporating their own ideas into their projects. Seeing my students move towards  becoming independent scientists is one of the most rewarding aspects of laboratory research.

What do you love about nanoscience?

One of the best things is that, relatively speaking it is such a new field. As a student I remember being impressed by the stories behind the scientists that made the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, who developed the foundation of scientific facts that we pass along to our students in the classroom. Perhaps it's a bit grandiose, but it's fun to think that nanoscience is moving towards becoming a standard textbook-worthy discipline, and I have had the pleasure of being among the many scientists who worked to develop this field while it was so young.

Best advice for students?

Choose a major that you find exciting. If you really love what you do for a living, you will possess a genuine enthusiasm and fire that will cause future employers to take notice. 

"I love forming connections with students and helping them identify major life goals that they might not have envisioned prior to university life. Whether they interface with me in the research lab or through dropping in to my office, I am always willing to help students define their individual trajectory."

Favorite Eau Claire event?


Favorite Eau Claire restaurant?

My opinions on this change almost daily. The current answer is Tacos Juanitas- they offer food that has a lot in common with some of my favorites from San Antonio.

Favorite place to travel for fun? 

The easy answer is San Francisco, since I have a lot of friends in the area and I love the West Coast, but someday I hope to return to south Texas. Just not in the summer.


Favorite things to do in your free time?

Off-campus, I refer to myself as a "small primate handler," which translates to mother of two young children. Between managing my career and my family, I would estimate that I am 95% occupied during my waking hours. In the little bit of spare time I have, I enjoy art, reading, and baking.

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.