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Summer 2007 E-newsletter

Dear Friends of Materials Science & Engineering,

As summer winds down, we once again find ourselves at the beginning of a new academic year. You can read about our summer term activities below, and we look forward to sharing our new happenings with you as the 2007-2008 academic year unfolds. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us at materials@coe.drexel.edu with any questions or comments that you may have.

In This Edition...

MSE Welcomes New Faculty

Ulrike Wegst

Dr. Ulrike Wegst will join the department as the Anne Stevens Assistant Professor in September 2007. Dr. Wegst studied Physics and Materials Science at the Georg-August Universität Göttingen,Germany and at the University of Cambridge, UK. In 1997 she received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge for her analysis of the Mechanical Performance of Natural Materials. Until 2000, she worked as a Research Associate in the Engineering Design Centre of the Cambridge University Engineering Department on the development of a software-based methodology for the environmentally-conscious selection of materials and processes, since then implemented in the CES Eco-Selector software. From 2000 to 2001, she was a Visiting Scientist at the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, France, where she started her work on the qualitative and quantitative characterization of biological materials using synchrotron-generated X-rays. The goal of Dr. Wegst’s research on biological materials is to understand in detail the relationship between their structure, mechanical properties, and function. Most recently, Dr. Wegst has been a staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Stuttgart, Germany. She has also been a Visiting Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2005. To learn more about Dr. Wegst, visit her faculty page.

DREAM and SENSORS Wrap Up Another Exciting Summer


A Farewell BBQ held on Friday, August 24, was the culminating event of DREAM: Drexel Research Experience in Advanced Materials and SENSORS: From Design to Implementation, two NSF-sponsored summer research experiences for undergraduates sites. Participants in both programs spent ten exciting and fun-filled weeks at Drexel this summer.


In addition to the many hours spent doing important research in lab, DREAM and SENSORS participants took in historical sites and cultural happenings around Philadelphia. They visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, toured the Kimmel Center, and tasted the various cultural cuisines around the city. They also enjoyed many activities on Drexel’s campus including a poster session; a Women in Engineering Panel with Drexel faculty and students; more than ten presentations and demonstrations from Drexel faculty and staff; and a panel discussion with current Drexel grad students.

Dr. Michel Barsoum’s Pyramid Research Featured on NSF Home Page

Michele Barsoum

Dr. Michel Barsoum, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, was featured on the National Science Foundation (NSF) home page on July 13, 2007 for his findings that the Great Pyramids of Giza are partially constructed of limestone-based concrete. The story, written by Dorilona Rose, Operations Manager, and Sheila Berninger, Program Coordinator, was also featured on LiveScience.com on May 18, 2007.

Dr. Barsoum’s research has recently gained extensive press both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Roger Doherty Publishes Paper Remembering Early Materials Scientists

Roger Doherty

Dr. Roger Doherty, A.W. Grosvenor Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, has published a paper in Science that recalls the work of the late Robert W. Cahn and the late David Turnbull, two pioneering materials scientists.

Among Robert Cahn’s contributions to the field include his studies of the dislocation theory (a theory that scientifically addressed what controls the properties of metal alloys), his finding of a successful model for the nucleation of new crystals formed during recrystallization, and the crystallography of uranium.

David Turnbull made several major contributions to materials science as well, including the ability to quantitatively understand the nucleation of structural transformations and research on solid-state diffusion and the structure of liquids.

Together, the two scientists laid the groundwork for today’s materials science, which centers around the modification and improvement of properties to make better materials.

MSE Hosts Hands-On Experience for Philadelphia Youths

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering welcomed about 100 young students from the Exodus to Excellence Summer Program to learn about materials on Friday, July 27.

Exodus to Excellence

Exodus to Excellence is a nonprofit organization that serves the youth of the greater Philadelphia area by introducing them to enrichment programs during summer camps, school year workshops, and after school enhancement labs. The program’s students visited Drexel as part of a partnership with Drexel’s Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP), an endeavor that promotes the success of minority students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

The students’ visit kicked off in the Mitchell Auditorium of the Bossone Research Enterprise Center at 9 a.m. where students heard an introductory materials lesson from Dr. Richard Knight, Auxiliary Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. They then had the chance to experience a variety of demonstrations led by MSE graduate students, including "Liquid Crystal Thermometers" with Naomi Hampson, "Slime and Foam" with Kishore Tenneti, "Materials Make it Possible" with Alex Moseson, and "Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream" with Aaron Sakulich. The students’ morning session with materials was topped off with a lunch served in Bossone Lobby and held in conjunction with a research poster session presented by Drexel’s College of Engineering High School Summer Mentorship Program. The Summer Mentorship Program is a dynamic, three-week research experience that provides high school students with a unique opportunity to work in a Drexel laboratory on an individualized research project.

Exodus to Excellence

Exodus to Excellence participants enjoyed their hands-on experiences with each MSE demo as much as the department’s faculty, staff, and students enjoyed hosting the students.

"The Department of Materials Science and Engineering values the opportunity to introduce local students to materials science, all aspects of engineering, and the thriving university environment," Dr. Surya Kalidindi, Department Head and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, said. "We’re delighted that the feedback from the Exodus to Excellence participants was so positive."

Yury Gogotsi and Colleagues’ Nanodiamond Research Makes Front Page of Philadelphia Business Journal

Yury Gogotsi

Dr. Yury Gogotsi, director of the A. J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, was featured on the front page of the June 29 to July 5, 2007, weekly edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal for his collaboration with NanoBlox, Inc. Dr. Gogotsi’s research team, led by postdoctoral researcher Dr. Vadym Mochalin, developed a technology that enables nanodiamonds to be used for the various applications envisioned by NanoBlox.

According to NanoBlox’s chief technology officer Chuck Picardi, nanodiamonds can be used for drug delivery, drug diagnostics, medical imaging, nonstick cookware surfaces, and engine lubricants, among other applications.

Before nanodiamonds can be used, however, they need to be purified.

“My group has patented and licensed to Nanoblox an air oxidation process that improves on the industry standard because it is less expensive, less harmful to the environment, more efficient, and scalable to bulk nanodiamond powder production,” Gogotsi said.

Drexel’s A. J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute is part of The Nanotechnology Institute (NTI), a collaboration led by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and The University of Pennsylvania. It is the first comprehensive model of its kind, designed to facilitate the research, development, and commercialization of nanotechnology’s real world applications.

Dr. Michele Marcolongo Selected For NAE Frontiers of Engineering Program

Michele Marcolongo

Dr. Michele Marcolongo, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), has been chosen as one of 83 engineers from academia, industry, and government, to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 13th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. Dr. Marcolongo was hand picked out of more than 200 engineers who applied for the program.

Frontiers of Engineering was initiated to provide an opportunity for top-notch engineers, early in their careers, to learn about cutting-edge developments in fields other than their own, thereby facilitating collaborative work and the transfer of new approaches and techniques across fields. The symposium will be held September 24th through 26th at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, and will examine trustworthy computer systems, safe water technologies, modeling and simulating human behavior, biotechnology for fuels and chemicals, and the control of protein conformations.

Dr. Henrique Malvar, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and managing director of Microsoft Research, will be a featured speaker at the symposium and will discuss his research on audio and video signal enhancement and compression, multirate signal processing, and signal decompositions.

The National Academy of Engineering is an independent, nonprofit institution that serves as an adviser to government and the public on issues in engineering and technology. Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements.

MSE Says Bon Voyage to Grad Student Aaron Sakulich, Who Will Spend the Next Year in Morocco

Aaron Sakulich

Aaron Sakulich, Ph.D. student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (advisor: Michel Barsoum) recently received a J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship that will enable him to live and do geopolymer research at the University Hassan II-Mohammedia near Casablanca, Morocco, for approximately one year. He will embark on his journey in early September.

Read about Aaron's experiences throughout his stay in Morrocco.

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Last updated Friday, June 6, 2008