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Nuclear stockpile science
WSU student receives prestigious national fellowship
Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2012
By Daniel Estep, College of Engineering and Architecture intern
PULLMAN, Wash. - Materials science and engineering Ph.D. student Samantha Lawrence is the first Washington State University recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE NNSA SSGF).
The fellowship program provides financial support and professional development for doctoral science and engineering students who are focused on stewardship science. Stewardship science relates specifically to the nuclear stockpile.
For Lawrence, it will revolve around understanding material properties and designing materials to withstand the extreme conditions within nuclear environments. Only six out of thousands of applicants annually receive the fellowship, which was established in 2006.
Lawrence received the fellowship based on the applicability of her research to stewardship science, particularly related to the properties of advanced materials in extreme environments, as well as her strong academic performance and extracurricular activities.
Lawrence studies mechanical behavior and the environmental response of materials on the sub-micrometer scale. In particular, she is testing engineering alloys that are used in industry and substrate-oxide film systems at very small scales in order to isolate the effects of specific phases or defects on the interaction between the environment and mechanical response.
The work ultimately will inform large scale materials problems such as wear, stress corrosion cracking and failure.
As part of the fellowship program, Lawrence receives full tuition and required fees, a yearly stipend, attendance at yearly conferences and the potential to renew the fellowship for up to four years.
Fellows also get the opportunity to enhance their skills and learn new research capabilities in the DOE laboratory practicum. According to the official DOE NNSA SSGF website the experience offers fellows the unique opportunity to work with some of the most respected scientists in the world and use their interests to further research critical to the nation.
"Graduate work in materials reliability is a stepping stone to attaining my ultimate career goal of running a consulting firm to provide materials reliability solutions to a varied clientele,” she said. "This career experience will help in achieving my goal of using my metallurgical knowledge in service of my country while gaining valuable real world experience, prior to establishing a consulting firm.”
Lawrence is in her third semester at WSU. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in metallurgical and materials engineering in December 2010 from Colorado School of Mines. She is advised by WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering director David Bahr.