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digi-mat team

Harley Johnson, Director and Team Member

Harley Johnson

Director and Team Member

Associate Dean for Research, Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois
Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois
Faculty Affiliate, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois

Professor Johnson studies the mechanics of electronic and photonic materials, the mechanics of nanostructures, and optical properties of materials. His group works on applications in many areas, including solar energy, microelectronics, sensing and detection, and materials processing. Their work relies on atomistic and continuum modeling methods to simulate multiphysics phenomena, with the goal of helping to design and interpret experiments.

Angela M. Slates, Coordinator and Team Member

Angela M. Slates

Coordinator and Team Member

Angela has a PhD in Education Policy and Organization Leadership from Illinois with a focus on equity and diversity issues in STEM education. She comes to the DIGI-MAT team with a background in higher education and K-12 program development and implementation, higher education teaching, community informatics, academic research, program evaluation, instructional design and community engagement.

Lorna Rivera, Evaluator and Team Member

Lorna Rivera

Evaluator and Team Member

Research Scientist, Georgia Institute of Technology

Rivera, a research faculty member at Georgia Tech, studies program evaluation with a special focus on the intersection of scientific content, pedagogy, and equity. She aims to do this work in both methodologically innovative and socially responsible ways.

Elif Ertekin, Team Member

Elif Ertekin

Team Member

Associate Professor; Andersen Faculty Scholar
Associate Professor, Mechanical Science & Engineering, University of Illinois
Anderson Faculty Scholar

Professor Ertekin's research focuses on computational materials design, mechanical properties at the nanoscale, electronic properties of materials for energy storage and conversion, nanoscale phase transitions, properties of interfaces between dissimilar materials and defect-property relationships for materials.

Pinshane Y. Huang, Team Member

Pinshane Y. Huang

Team Member

Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois

Professor Huang's current research is focused around transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy of two-dimensional materials and soft-hard interfaces. Her work has produced iconic images showing how defects occur in atomically thin materials such as graphene, 2D semiconductors, and silica glass.

Bo Li, Team Member

Bo Li

Team Member

Professor and Chair, Data Science Founder Professorial Scholar, Department of Statistics, University of Illinois
Faculty Affiliate, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois

Dr. Li's research mainly focuses on spatial and spatio-temporal statistics and environmental statistics concerning problems in climatology, atmospheric sciences, public health, forestry and agriculture.

Klara Nahrstedt, Team Member

Klara Nahrstedt

Team Member

Ralph and Catherine Fisher Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois
Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory, University of Illinois

Professsor Nahrstedt's research interests are directed toward trustworthy multimedia distributed systems and networking, quality of service (QoS) and resource management in Internet and mobile systems, real-time security in wireless networks for trustworthy power grids, edge-cloud systems, cyber-physical system security for electric vehicles, health systems, 3D tele-immersive systems, and advanced edge-cloud-based cyber-infrastructures for scientific instruments.

Luke Olson, Team Member

Luke Olson

Team Member

Professor, Computer Science, University of Illinois
Willett Faculty Scholar

Professor Olson's research interests are in the areas of scientific computing and numerical analysis. His work focuses on numerical methods for partial differential equations, such as finite element methods, and sparse matrix solvers that arise in these settings.

André Schleife, Team Member

André Schleife

Team Member

Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois

Professor Schleife's research group uses advanced computation to understand and predict the intricate interplay of charge, spin, and lattice degrees of freedom with external excitations for materials in electronic and energy applications and under extreme conditions. He studies electronic excitations, triggered by interaction with electromagnetic and particle radiation, and subsequent femto-second relaxation processes.

Dallas R. Trinkle, Team Member

Dallas R. Trinkle

Team Member

Willett Faculty Scholar and Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois
Associate Head of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois

Professor Trinkle's research focuses on computational methods for studying defects in materials at the atomic-scale using density-functional theory, and novel techniques to understand problems in mechanical behavior and transport. This has led to ab initio predictions of solid-solution softening in molybdenum, solute strengthening and softening in magnesium alloys, pipe diffusion of hydrogen in palladium, diffusion of oxygen in titanium and solutes in magnesium, among others.

Matthew Turk, Team Member

Matthew Turk

Team Member

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy, University of Illinois
Faculty Affiliate, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois

Professor Turk's research focus is on data analysis and visualization, social structures of academic software communities, information transmission through software, formation of the first stars and galaxies, primordial chemistry, high-performance computing and computational simulations and analysis and visualization of astrophysical data.

Lucas K. Wagner, Team Member

Lucas K. Wagner

Team Member

Assistant Professor, Physics, University of Illinois

Professor Wagner's research focuses on using high performance computation to simulate complex systems, and draw physical insights from those simulations. He uses quantum Monte Carlo calculations to accurately describe the wave functions of realistic models of electrons and nuclei, including correlations between electrons explicitly.


cohort 0

Cohort Zero
Erick Hernandez, Cohort Zero Member

Erick Hernandez

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Materials Science and Engineering, B.S.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Materials Science and Engineering, Ph.D. candidate

Quantum dots are a type of light-emitting nanocrystalline semiconductors with applications in consumer electronics and in biological imaging. Today's best performing quantum dots are toxic when they degrade, preventing their widespread use. In order to design better, safer quantum dots we need to understand how the nanocrystal's composition, shape, size, and internal structure affect its optical properties. The overarching goal of my research is to use experimental and computational techniques to explore the structure-function relationship between these characteristics and the optical properties of nanocrystals.

Drs. André Schleife and Andrew Smith
Jiaxing Qu, Cohort Zero Member

Jiaxing Qu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mechanical Engineering, PhD, 2018-current
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Mechanics, M.S., 2016-2018
Hohai University, Mechanics, B.S., 2012-2016

Jiaxing's research interest focuses on computational discovery for novel thermoelectric materials.

Dr. Elif Ertekin
Josh Vita, Cohort Zero Member

Josh Vita

University of Arizona, Materials Science and Engineering, Mathematics, B.S., 2017

Originally from Tucson, Josh did his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona, receiving bachelor's degrees in both materials science and mathematics. Since joining Illinois in 2017 as a member of Dallas Trinkle's group, Josh's research has focused on developing efficient and scalable software for building inter-atomic potentials for molecular dynamics. Josh says, ultimately, the purpose of his research is to leverage modern computational resources and materials databases to help lower the barrier to entry for new studies in computational materials science.

Dr. Dallas Trinkle
Mengchen Wang, Cohort Zero Member

Mengchen Wang

University of Science and Technology of China, Statistics, B.S., 2018

Mengchen's research interests focuses on spatio-temporal modeling and functional data analysis.

Dr. Bo Li
Xiaoyang Wang, Cohort Zero Member

Xiaoyang Wang

Northwestern University, Computer Science, M.S., 2017 Central South University (China), Automation, B.E., 2016

Xiaoyang is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. He is currently working on causal reasoning. More specifically, he is developing algorithms to diagnose failures in material science experiments.

Dr. Klara Nahrstedt

cohort 1

Cohort One
Ferdaushi Alam Bipasha, Cohort One Member

Ferdaushi Alam Bipasha

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Mechanical Engineering, B.S., 2016

Bipasha completed her Bachelors in Mechanical engineering from BUET in 2016 and after that worked in industries for three years. In Fall 2019, Bipasha joined MechSE at Illinois to pursue her PhD in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently working in Dr. Ertekin's research group and working on computational study of thermoelectric materials.

Dr. Elif Ertekin
Sharon Edward, Cohort One Member

Sharon Edward

University of Kentucky, Mechanical Engineering, B.S., 2019

Sharon's current research interests are in fluid mechanics, molecular dynamics and dynamical systems. Her research focuses on the study of hyperthermal collisions of atomic oxygen with graphene using molecular dynamics based programs like LAMMPS.

Dr. Harley Johnson
Robert Charles Garrett, Cohort One Member

Robert Charles Garrett

Miami University, Mathematics & Statistics, B.S., 2019

Robert graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics & Statistics from Miami University in 2019. Recently, he has recently finished his first year in the Statistics PhD Program at Illinois. As part of DIGI-MAT, Robert will be working with Dr. Bo Li to develop a new method for functional kriging, which would allow for better predictions of curves and surfaces across spatial regions.

Dr. Bo Li
Jeffrey Huang, Cohort One Member

Jeffrey Huang

Cornell University, Engineering Physics, B.S., 2019

(Scanning) transmission electron microscopy can be used to study the structure of materials at the atomic scale. Jeffrey is using machine learning to process TEM diffraction data and atomic resolution STEM images, especially in application to metallic antiferromagnetic materials.

Dr. Pinshane Huang
Kevin Gordon Kleiner, Cohort One Member

Kevin Gordon Kleiner

University of Tennessee Knoxville, Physics, B.S., 2019
Summa Cum Laude
Chancellor's Honors Program

Kevin says modern technologies including quantum computers, transistors, and solar cells rely on semiconductor materials. Thanks to implanting small defects into the atomic pattern, semiconductors can host useful, controllable behaviors such as electrical conductivity, light sensing, and long-lived quantum information. These behaviors originate from the interplay of the electrons and atomic nuclei, but the precise role of defects in realistic systems is still under debate. Aided by first principles physics simulations and data science techniques, I will build simplified quantum models for the crystal vibrations and electronic structures in various semiconductors. These models link a system's atomic pattern to accurate descriptions of its behaviors, which can guide materials engineers when tuning semiconductors for relevant technologies.

Dr. Lucas Wagner
Zachary Riedel, Cohort One Member

Zachary Riedel

Clemson University, Materials Science and Engineering, B.S., 2019
minors: mathematics, chemistry

Zach is a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering, working in Dr. Daniel P. Shoemaker's group on two materials chemistry focused projects. The first involves isolating a novel Ni-V-O phase in order to solve its structure and probe its electronic and magnetic properties. His DIGI-MAT involvement stems from his second project. This project seeks to utilize the advantageous properties of rare earth materials for quantum information storage. Quantum information and computing can offer benefits ranging from massively increased computational capacity to enhanced cryptographic security. By cataloging previously discovered, environmentally stable candidates and by predicting undiscovered materials, Zach hopes to expand the materials options for the emerging quantum information field. Zach says, "I am excited about the (DIGI-MAT) program and look forward to learning about the intersection of materials and data science."

Dr. Daniel Shoemaker
Aagam Shah, Cohort One Member

Aagam Shah

IIT-Gandhinagar, Materials Science and Engineering, B.S., 2019

Aagam received his Bachelor's in Materials Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, where he worked on biotemplating to synthesise inverse gyroid photonic crystals. He joined the Master's program in the same discipline at Illinois in Fall 2019. Here, he works with Prof. Sameh Tawfick and Prof. Elif Ertekin on the Gr-ResQ tool. This is a nanoHUB tool designed to be a one-stop solution for analysis of graphene synthesis by chemical vapor deposition, which acts as a database for recipes and provides tools for users to quantitatively analyse microscopy images and Raman spectra. Aagam studies the synthesis of graphene by chemical vapor deposition and works on the tool analyzing Raman spectra.

Dr. Elif Ertekin

cohort 2

Cohort Two
Micah Armstrong

Micah Armstrong

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Materials Engineering, B.S., 2020

As a part of Dr. Nicola Perry's research group Micah is working on the development of high-throughput methods for the analysis of combinatorial thin films. These films can be used to analyze the transport properties and defect chemistries of ionic materials, such as those used in emerging energy conversion and storage technologies. The goal of this project is to develop efficient methods for analyzing the electrochemical properties of broad ranges of oxide compositions at a wide range of thermal and atmospheric conditions, using advanced data science methods to receive and analyze the large, complex data sets produced in the process.

Dr. Nicola Perry
Rees Chang

Rees Chang

Cornell University, Materials Science and Engineering, B.S., 2020

Rees is a PhD student in materials science and engineering. He is broadly interested in advancing and applying methods at the intersection of computational materials science and machine learning to accelerate materials design.

Dr. Elif Ertekin
Austin Ellis-Mohr

Austin Ellis-Mohr

Cornell University, Electrical & Computer Engineering, B.S., 2020

As the size and depth of neural networks utilized continues to increase, a critical bottleneck is the data communication between off-chip memory and the on-chip caches. non-von Neumann architectures in which memory and processing coexist in some form. Austin's work is focused on advancing machine learning hardware by creating new architectures designed specially for neural networks using standard CMOS technology and by developing new types of in-memory and neuromorphic computing devices.

Dr. Qing Cao
Ben Jasperson

Ben Jasperson

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mechanical Engineering, M.S.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mechanical Engineering, B.S.

Ben received his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current research topic involves using machine learning to identify 2D materials with desired non-linear optical properties.

Dr. Harley Johnson
Sonali Joshi

Sonali Joshi

University of Central Florida, Physics, B.S., 2020 (with honors)

Sonali is a Ph.D. student in Physics at UIUC. She is interested in the development and use of computational techniques in physics that can be used towards finding potential new and existing materials for future technologies. An important part of realizing new materials if determining their thermodynamic stability, which requires exploring their formation energy. Currently she is introducing herself to various first principles techniques to calculate the formation energy of various systems. The hope for these new materials is that they could be valuable in catalytic reactions, energy storage, and many other areas.

Dr. Lucas Wagner
Cindy Ying Wong

Cindy Ying Wong

Arizona State University, Materials Science and Engineering, B.S., 2020

The current paradigm in materials research which focuses on trial-and-error can be costly. Cindy's current research focuses on using machine learning to understand the structure-property relation of complex materials for inverse materials design. By using data-driven methods in materials design and discovery, we can overcome challenges in experimental and computational work that rely on human intuition.

Dr. André Schleife