MSE Alumni Spotlight

MertiriAlket Mertiri, MSE PhD, 2014, Research Scientist and Project Manager, Pendar Technologies

“I am a research scientist and project manager at Pendar Technologies, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start-up company. My team is developing a point-of-care platform to detect infectious diseases and minimize disease outbreaks. We collaborate with universities and with companies globally to create affordable real-time molecular testing. My team has secured multi-million dollar contracts from the Department of Defense to work on issues concerning global health. Pendar Technologies is a privately held product development company focused on bringing to market portable analysis and monitoring products.

The multidisciplinary work and interdepartmental faculty of the Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) Division trained me to work in a cooperative environment. I was able to work with materials scientists, physicists, chemists and biologists on fundamental science problems and on new developments in engineering. The strong academic program prepared me for my research both at BU and in my career. While at BU, I was able to build my leadership skills and develop an academic network through the division-supported student chapters of the Material Research Society and ASM International.”

Materials _ Nancy Li

Nancy Ranxing Li, MSE PhD, 2013, Technical Product Manager, Verizon
“I am a Technical Product Manager at Verizon. I lead a team of 30 developers, UI designers, and scrum masters to build smart cities solutions using Internet of Things technology. I am specialized in managing and developing products to reduce traffic and car crashes. I have helped Boston, Palo Alto, and The Washington RedSkins to address traffic and road safety issues. Prior to Verizon, I was the first employee of Shell TechWorks, Shell Oil’s Innovation Center in Boston. I helped to raise $2 million in funding and grew the office from 3 people to 70 people in 3 years.

MSE is the best program to find your own interest, hone your skills, and succeed in it. MSE allowed me to find advisors in almost all the disciplines at College of Engineering and School of Art and Science at BU. I was exposed to a lots of new ideas and cutting-edge technologies. The exposure taught me to see things from a different prospective. The analytical skills and time management skills I learned at MSE have become a life-long tool that enables me to succeed in the fields outside of materials science. I joined Shell TechWorks to work on robotics and control system projects right after I graduated from MSE. After I succeeded in that field, I took on new challenges of designing smart cities and managing a portfolio of products.

In my free time, I dedicate my energy to ballroom dance competitions, enjoy windsurfing, traveling, and creative writing.”

Eric GratzEric Gratz, MSE PhD, 2012, Co-Founder/CEO, Battery Resourcers

“At Battery Resourcers, we are developing a novel Li-ion battery recycling project capable of recovering all the components of a Li-ion battery including the cathode materials.  Our process can recycle any Li-ion battery regardless of the batteries size, shape or cathode chemistry. As CEO, I am responsible for the technical development of our process as well as any business dealings and fundraising. While conducting my PhD research in the Division of Materials Science & Engineering at BU, I worked directly with a startup and found the experience to be incredibly valuable in my current position.”

Eriksen, Fuel Cell 1Ryan S. Eriksen, MSE PhD, 2015, Postdoctoral Associate, Boston University, Boston, MA

“I ultimately chose Materials Science because I wanted to learn about how things works and what they were made of, but I wanted to learn the engineering behind it, not just the science. Science looks at why and how, but not always with regard to how it can be useful. I wanted use that knowledge and work on a practical technology to that would contribute to society.

At BU, I learned about a wide variety of projects, which I think is one of the strengths of the MSE Division. While I worked on my own projects in electrochemistry and high temperature ceramics, I worked next to friends who worked on MEMs, optics, and wide variety of other subjects.

After my time at MSE, I received a postdoc position in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at BU. I currently manage a team of undergraduate students and work with graduate students on self-cleaning solar power, called the Eletrodynamic Screen, or EDS. We are looking at the effect that high voltage has on the electrode materials and testing different manufacturing techniques. The EDS has been shown to work in the lab, and we are testing it in the field. From there, we will scale up. Ideally, we want to prove the technology is cheap and mass producible, and therefore a viable commercial product. It’s an exciting stage of the development of a technology.”

Qing LuQing Lu, MSE PhD, 2015, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

“I am currently working at Brandeis University as a Postdoctoral Fellow. My research area focuses on determining the mechanism by which viral capsids assemble and the factors that control the process. My research uses computational simulations to characterize mechanims of assembly processes using coarse-grained models that retains the relevant molecular properties, and enhanced sampling methods to achieve high efficiency.


MSE.alumni.yurtAbdulkadir Yurt, MSE PhD., 2014, Optical Test Engineer, Intel Corporation, Santa Clara, CA

“The coursework, research and career development opportunities offered in the graduate program of Materials Science and Engineering Division are unmatched and prepare its students for a successful career in an academic or industry environment. In addition, social events such as cupcake parties, pizza gatherings and occasional potlucks always made me feel welcomed and cheerful over the years. I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to work and interact with great people in the MSE Division.

After I graduated, I took a position at Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, CA. My group, Silicon Photonics Solutions Group, develops new approaches to make optical devices out of silicon and use light to move huge amounts of data at very high speeds, with extremely low power over a thin optical fiber for datacom and telecom applications. My role currently involves developing and conducting electrical and optical tests required for device characterization and capturing critical information to support design and process improvements for active and passive components of integrated transmitters and receivers.”



Xiaofei Guan, MSE PhD, 2013, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University and Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University

“At Boston University, I am developing a solid oxide membrane-based electrolysis process for the production of technologically important metals including magnesium and aluminum. This electrolysis process produces pure metals and pure oxygen, and thus has zero-carbon emission. I am also working as an independent consultant to INFINIUM Inc. on the scale-up of this process. Successful implementation of this process will provide both economic and environmental benefits.”


MSE.alumni.trevinoJacob Trevino, MSE PhD 2013, Scientific Cleanroom Directory, City University of New York

“The main reason I chose the PhD program in Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) at Boston University was for its dynamic range in faculty, students and curriculum. There was a sense of synergy between several different disciplines that was highly appealing to me. I had the opportunity to work in a photonics research group that brought together students and post doctoral fellows from physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science engineering backgrounds to solve several technological challenges spanning many research areas. My work at BU focused on engineering complex nanostructures to manipulate light for applications towards solar cell and light emitting diode (LED) enhancement, bio-sensing, quantum encryption and novel laser beams.

The MSE department at Boston University supported several extracurricular events and societies that especially enhanced my time in the program. Student run and department supported chapters of the Materials Research Society (MRS) and ASM International offered great opportunities for outreach, networking, and career development.

After graduating from BU with my PhD, I took a position at the City University of New York (CUNY) as the Scientific Cleanroom Director for a new nanofabrication facility in the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC). In my position, I work with CUNY faculty and external researchers to fully utilize the center’s state of the art facilities and conduct photonics research. Additionally, I lead outreach efforts to the public, academic institutions, and industrial collaborators.”

MSE.alumni.jiapeng.xuJiaPeng Xu, MSE PhD, 2013, Senior Coatings Engineer, LiquiGlide Inc.

“My experience in the Division of Materials Science & Engineering at Boston University was very positive. The faculty members are involved with an extremely dynamic spectrum of research activities. I worked with researchers from a variety of different departments, even different institutions. This is a young division; student clubs like ASM and MRS are very helpful in bringing students together via various professional and social activities. The energy level is high in the Division, and support from the administration and staff is great.

Currently I am working at an exciting MIT spin-off company called LiquiGlide as senior coatings engineer. My set of different skills learned during my study at BU are extremely valuable. BU is a well-respected school and my transition from school to industry has been very smooth. Boston is a great area, in terms of living, doing research, and industry opportunities.”



Adam Moldawer, SE PhD, 2013, Senior Electrical Engineer, Raytheon IDS

“I currently develop and optimize etch and wafer backside processes while supporting the fabrication of cutting-edge III-V semiconductor devices. These see varied use in radar arrays and other electronic systems for defense applications.”



Lincoln Miara, MSE PhD, 2012, Senior Research Engineer, Samsung Electronics, Research Lab, SAIT-America Cambridge Lab

“My job is to find new materials for next generation batteries. I use first principles computational modeling to search for materials that have useful properties for solid-state batteries.”


MSE.alumni.botelhoAndre L. Botelho, MSE PhD, 2012, Postdoctoral Researcher, Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

“I am developing quantum mechanical models for organic semiconductors. The models will be used to advance the Materials Genome Initiative, building a database of millions of chemical structures and their calculated properties. Researchers across the world will be able to mine the database for materials that may fit their particular needs, such as for organic solar panels, displays, sensors, etc.”

MSE.alumni.rhoadsMary Rhoads, MSE MS, 2011, Technical Assistant, MIT

“Thanks to the flexibility of the masters program in MSE and to the thriving biotech scene in the Boston area, I was able to attend school part-time, while working as a lab assistant to get experience in a tissue engineering lab across the river at MIT. Once I finished my masters I was promoted to a research position working with hydrogels for tissue engineering applications. I’ve been in my new position almost a year and I love that I am working on fascinating projects and continuing to learn every day at a world-class institution.

I doubt I would have been able to get this position without having my new degree and relevant work experience as I did, and I think that other students could have similar experiences whether they want to work in industry or academia because of all of the great work opportunities in Boston.”

MSE.alumni.zinkPeter Zink, MSE PhD, 2010, Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer, ME/MSE, Boston University

“When I chose to do my graduate studies at BU, I never thought I might end up as a BU faculty member. I was originally attracted to BU by the Materials Science and Engineering research that Professor Uday Pal was directing, focusing on the research and development of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. That topic seemed to me to be a great application of materials science and engineering, as well as having the potential of having a positive effect on the world and people’s lives. Since returning to BU, I have focused my attention on teaching the fundamentals of materials science and the mechanics of materials. I have also been working on a number of research projects, including:

* the study of an energy storage and recovery concept based on electrochemical reactions with tungsten metal and oxide – this is to help temporarily store energy on the grid, if, for example, we start using more intermittent sources like solar and wind;
* a process that uses a ceramic membrane to recycle mixed magnesium and magnesium oxide waste, and in the end might make our cars more fuel efficient;
* developing ceramic sensors for us in electrochemistry-based nuclear waste recycling — to provide control for and to safeguard for the recycling process.

Looking forward, while I am planning to focus more on teaching, I am also working on a few small research projects that involve novel ways of combining materials science and engineering in order to solve other societal problems, particularly problems related to agriculture. In one project, I’ve proposed using materials that I first became familiar with during my study of fuel cells, and electrochemical methods that are involved in the nuclear-waste recycling sensor, and putting those together to develop a sensor for real-time measurement of micro-nutrients in soils, which are important for healthy plants, and thus high agricultural yields, which could be a big help for small farmers.”

MSE.alumni.patiSoobhankar Pati, MSE PhD, 2010, Senior Research Engineer, MOxST

“Although I wanted to do my PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, I was not sure of which area. The faculty and the staff at BU’s MSE division were very friendly and helpful in letting me take time during my first year to understand the research opportunities available before deciding. I am really glad to have had this flexibility, as it changed my life forever. I also appreciate the collaborative attitude of faculty and students. As a graduate student, I collaborated with other graduate students and also business school students to co-found a start-up based on my graduate thesis. This gave me the opportunity to understand the business side of the technology. The experience I gained both in class and research during graduate school has helped me to perform very well in my professional career.

Currently, I am a Research Engineer at Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies (MOxST). (MOxST) is developing new technologies for producing high-purity metals and pure oxygen gas directly from metal oxides at low cost and with zero direct environmental emissions. In addition to lower industrial emissions and energy use, these metal products will drive innovation of a new generation of energy-efficient vehicles, and will help to accelerate the widespread deployment of solar energy and rare-earth magnets used in wind turbines and hybrid/electric cars by reducing their cost. As a Research Engineer, I supervise the work of engineers, technicians and interns to timely meet project milestones. I plan and evaluate projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives to improve the process. I also spend my time in developing the intellectual property to meet the organization’s strategic goals”.

MSE.alumni.sakkasPetros M. Sakkas, MSE MS, 2009, Center for Energy Research of Southern Saxony, Germany

“The MSE graduate program was a great experience for me. My initial exposure to electronic ceramics was during my undergraduate thesis at the School of Metallurgical Engineering. The next step brought me to the College of Engineering MSE graduate program and the High Temperatures Chemistry Lab. Over the course of my research there I had the

opportunity to learn about solid oxide fuel cells and how much they can contribute to environmentally sound processes, spanning from energy storage to metallurgy and waste utilization. In fact, I was lucky to study and exercise a subject that would bridge metallurgy and electronic ceramics together in a unique way.

After concluding my graduate studies at BU, I moved on to the Center for Energy Research of Southern Saxony, Germany. My new project involves nano-sized metals and metal oxides synthesis via electrochemical and ultrasound powered techniques. The ultimate goal is to decorate state-of-the-art SOFC anode-side powders using the cost efficient technology of ultrasonic cavitation. This new breed of anode materials is to be used in natural gas fueled SOFC so as to prevent carbon and sulfur poisoning of the anode side. The improved anodes design is expected to contribute towards SOFC systems stability and longevity that will bring us a step forward in spreading clean energy production solutions to the community.

The MSE graduate program provided me with great skills and insight in the fuel cells domain. I am grateful to all of the faculty that contributed to the genesis of this new graduate program in the Materials Science & Engineering Division of the College of Engineering at Boston University.”