Michael Reisert is a fourth-year PhD student conducting materials research with an emphasis in electrochemistry and energy systems. He is the VP of John Lof, where he organizes general body and e-board meetings, oversees Mind Garden, and assists with executive responsibilities.
Currently, his research examines solid oxide electrochemical systems as a means of advancing energy storage, energy conversion and fuel utilization. His focus on dual atmosphere corrosion of stainless steel interconnects assesses the anomalous oxidation of iron and degradation of metallic components in fuel cell systems. Through experimentation, computational studies and simulation analysis, Reisert’s investigation of dual atmosphere corrosion allows us to better understand the role of hydrogen in material degradation within these systems.
Going forward, Reisert hopes to partition his love of research into an industry-based position. He loves working with clean energy and believes that the hydrogen economy is a viable route for future transitions from fossil fuels.
As a second-year member of John Lof, Reisert stresses the importance of collaboration as an engineer student: “It’s very lacking in the whole curriculum…working with others, and the ability to develop more advanced leadership skills.”
In particular, the Academy has improved his ability of articulation, which is one of the more significant—yet neglected—aspects of the field. Reisert maintains that this ability makes the information more accessible to everyone, not just engineers. He says, “I want more people to understand what I’m trying to do, and why I’m trying to do it.”
Giovanna Fusco is a second year civil engineering PhD candidate, as well as Public Relations Director of John Lof Leadership Academy.
Currently, she is working to develop resilience mechanisms for residential buildings under hurricane loads. By calculating the different components of hurricane wear and translating those into a virtual reality model, Fusco can determine which parts of the architecture will fail, and use this information to develop a rounded risk assessment.
She has also streamlined a user input system, which allows individuals to identify parts of their own building. This allows her to input case-specific information, invariably giving the model analysis greater precision and accuracy.
This type of work is super applicable given the recent expansion of inclement, tempestuous weather resulting from climate change. Fusco’s experience within the field has advanced her knowledge of coding languages as well as her love of research.
In a deeper reflection of the field, Fusco said, “you don’t even realize it, but civil engineering encompasses things we use every single day—like buildings and transportation—so…technically, we can’t get anywhere without it.”
Since joining John Lof almost two years ago, Fusco has developed stronger speaking and presentation skills as a student-researcher. Through the guidance of the Academy, she has truly grown her confidence.
Ayana Ghosh is a postdoctoral research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. While she obtained her PhD this past summer, she continues to apply machine learning (ML) techniques to various materials science challenges in her research.
During her PhD, Ghosh constructed traditional ML algorithm-based models in order to better understand the crystallization propensity of molecules as well as the electronic and magnetic properties of functional materials, which have direct usage in several pharmaceutical and technological applications.
At the moment, Ghosh is engaged in developing ML frameworks with applications in automated experiments. This research attempts to bridge theory and computational data with real-life experimental data.
She hopes to better understand the nuances of experimental research as combined with the particulars of theoretical and simulated data. The implications of this are large and could change our traditional perception of the sciences.
As an international student (Ghosh grew up in West Bengal), she was considered ineligible for the bulk of fellowships provided, regardless of qualification or skill. Despite these obstacles, she received the John Tanaka Graduate Fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi for academic excellence and community engagement. While it is awarded irrespective of discipline, this scholarship is quantifiably exceptional in itself.
Aside from several conference presentation and poster awards, Ghosh was also the proud recipient of the Brian D. Proffer Student Excellence Award, the Student Involvement and Leadership (SIL) Emerging, and other Volunteer-Service awards during her undergraduate career at The University of Michigan-Flint.
In joining John Lof, Ghosh has had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds as well as learn leadership and mentoring skills significant to any line of work. She finds that the JLLA leadership program has enhanced skills which “enable one to become significant within their field.”
JLLA member Albert Tulli hosted and planned the most recent of workshops, “Identifying Opportunities,” which took place virtually on Friday, March 5th.
The focus of the seminar was to translate realistic problems into possibilities. In preparation, the members were advised to get more involved in volunteer work and to take greater initiative during networking opportunities.
This guided a greater discussion of “sharing successes.” In this portion of the workshop, students were advised to share their accomplishments — even the little ones — as much as possible. In sharing our successes with friends and family, we develop positive affirmations for our good work.
This idea was translated into online profiles and resume-building. Sharing on these platforms can open the door to greater possibility. As Erik Ammermann pointed out, “most potential employers search for a niche set of skills and experiences, so you’ll never know if you have what they’re looking for until you start sharing.”
Tulli also advised that each member should “make themselves comfortable with being uncomfortable.” While this advice means something different to each individual, it’s important in itself. He continued, “we all need to be clear and honest with ourselves about what we want…if we hold ourselves accountable, we can start to learn from our mistakes, and become better for it.”
This advice culminated into the later portion of the workshop, where the students were given case studies to solve. Members were divided into breakout rooms and given time to identify the case-specific challenge proposed, in order to then develop strategies and solutions.
In the final minutes of the meeting, Tulli stressed the idea that, “once we self-evaluate, we can determine and engage opportunities that benefit ourselves.”
Douglas Hendrix is a PhD candidate who will graduate this May with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering.
His current research works with high performance concrete. One such application for this material is the replacement of steel in traditional infrastructure. Through the even dispersion of nanosilica, the concrete is refined in strength and durability, allowing for greater corrosion resistance.
Hendrix expounds this research in Behavior of Colloidal Nanosilica and Investigation Methods for Characterizing Nanoparticles in Concrete, two co-authored publications.
He has been the recipient of several honors, the most recent being the GE Graduate Fellowship for Innovation, which enhanced his competency in communication and pedagogy. Though he has no intentions of becoming a professor, Hendrix maintains the concepts as being applicable to any industry position, within the field or outside of it.
As a second-year JLLA student, he has discerned similarities within the student-led Academy, which allows for the development and maintenance of each members’ own workshop.
Hendrix has also observed the benefits of John Lof as a student-researcher. In particular, he has found it to be a great “supplement to the soft skills which graduate programs typically gloss over.” The Academy aids in the advancement of technical writing, leadership and team-building skills for its student-members.