Fall 2023 Message from the Chair

Michele Manuel, Ph.D.
Michele Manuel, Ph.D.

Dear colleagues, alums, supporters and friends,   

As the semester comes to a close, our fall newsletter is a chance to take a moment and acknowledge some of the notable accomplishments within our department. From our hardworking faculty and staff to our dedicated students and accomplished alumni – the commitment to excellence is evident. This newsletter provides a snapshot of their achievements and reflects our collective dedication to creating positive change through materials science and engineering.  

In the fast-growing field of Artificial Intelligence, Nancy Ruzycki, Ph.D., is helping shape the leaders of tomorrow. Her education initiatives are cultivating underrepresented talents around the state of Florida in both engineering and computer science with immersive student summer camps and strategic teacher training. These camps foster a passion for artificial intelligence among young minds and showcase our commitment to advancing education in cutting-edge fields.  

Congratulations to Tori Miller, Ph.D., on her ASM International Silver Medal. This recognition is a testament to her exceptional contributions to materials science and engineering, particularly in novel metallics, and reflects the high caliber of research we see throughout our department.  

We also celebrate Kyle Hartig, Ph.D., for receiving the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM) 2023 Early Career Award recognizing his dedication to advancing nuclear safety and security and his joint appointment to the Savannah River National Lab (SRNL) – the first appointment of its kind between SRNL and the University of Florida. This dual achievement highlights his dedication to advancing nuclear materials management and fostering collaboration between academia and national laboratories.  

With the need for clean energy continuously expanding, we take a look at groundbreaking research conducted by Mike Tonks, Ph.D., and Assel Aitkaliyeva, Ph.D., on fueling the advanced nuclear reactor of the future. Their work exemplifies our commitment to advancing nuclear science by addressing the energy challenges of tomorrow.  

Shifting our focus to the noteworthy achievements of our alumni, exemplifying the enduring impact of our academic community. In this vein, we proudly announce the election of alumna Deepika Singh, Ph.D., (MS MSE’ 91) to the 2023 class of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor recognizes her significant contributions to materials innovations for the next generation of clean energy electronics and its economic impact, and it also underscores the mark of our department on the broader scientific community and the world.  

Alumnus Jason Griggs, Ph.D., FADM (Ph.D. MSE’ 98), has created a tradition of sorts by receiving the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Wilmer Souder Award in Dental Materials, becoming the third MSE graduate to be honored. Dr. Griggs, currently a professor and associate dean for research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Dentistry, was recognized for his research in dental porcelain strength, ceramic fracture toughness measurements and rapid testing for dental implants.  

We now turn our attention to acknowledging the distinguished service of another esteemed member of our academic community: Christopher Batich, Ph.D., professor emeritus. After more than 30 years of dedicated service to UF, we extend our warmest wishes to Dr. Batich upon his retirement. His invaluable contributions encompass a legacy of research, teaching, and mentorship that has left an indelible mark on our department. 

In closing, as we reflect on the remarkable achievements and milestones shared in this newsletter, we are reminded of the strength and unity within our academic community. The groundbreaking research, prestigious accolades, and the enduring dedication of both our alumni and faculty underscore the ongoing success of our department. 

As we move forward, we invite you to stay connected with us on our social media channels. Your engagement and participation are vital as we explore new frontiers, tackle challenges, and shape the future of our department. Together, we look forward to furthering our collective success and creating lasting impacts in the world of science and academia.  

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