Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
I chose graduate school at IUPUI because the professors I met during my search were very motivated and looking to make a very strong impact on their research fields. I felt that the fast-paced ambitious environment of a newer university trying to establish itself in name with the help of larger well-established universities such as Purdue University would help me find the resources and fellow researchers that would help me grow my potential in the way I was looking for. I also enjoyed the middle-sized campus feel and enjoyed that IUPUI was in the center of the city I grew up in. (I grew up in the eastside of Indianapolis).
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
Publishing my first research and perspective articles in two-dimensional transition metal carbides, known as MXenes, was by far my favorite accomplishments. I have grown to care quite a bit about these materials as this research area has become my professional passion, and it felt very rewarding to publish a new research insight and perspective on these materials as it felt like my own way to push the foundational knowledge in this field further than it had previously been.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis is a great mid-size city to live in as it has many of the big-city vibes of sports, night life, and city-wide events without the traffic, long commutes, or giant crowds. Indianapolis and the surrounding area is especially great for myself and my fiancée, as we have plenty of places to go visit on the weekend or take our two dogs on a walk without needing to drive too far!
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
My research pertains to the mechanical and high temperature properties of nanomaterials, specifically two-dimensional transition metal carbides, nitrides, and carbonitrides, which are commonly known as MXenes. My specific passion is in researching the fundamental behaviors of the mechanical properties and high-temperature transformations of MXenes composed of different transition metal and/or carbon/nitrogen. My fellowship through the Department of Defense pertains specifically to exploring the fundamental mechanical behavior of MXenes with different transition metals, carbon/nitrogen, number of atomic layers, and surface terminations.
In the lab, one of my passions is mentoring undergraduate students. At this point in my graduate career, I have found that my professional passion is researching the fundamental behavior of MXene nanomaterials, but before attending IUPUI I did not know that I had that passion. Most undergraduate students are in the same position I was in before my graduate studies, where the groundwork for research passion is there but the students have not yet experienced research. I greatly enjoy mentoring undergraduates and showing them that their passions for new learning can be turned into pushing the limits of what mankind as a whole knows about the world we live in.
Outside of research activities, I care a lot about making science an accessible career field for all people in the world. Unfortunately, in our world today true scientific knowledge and exploration is locked within higher education, where the admittance into these universities depends a lot on an individual’s background, opportunities, location, and financial situation from where they are born. In addition, when I was growing up, I found that scientific knowledge is often spread through basic fact memorization for standardized tests and is not experienced as the hands-on trial and error reality that it is. My non-research professional goal is to develop programs/experiences that can expand access to the sciences to all young students regardless of their background so that they can experience the concepts at a young age when they are still learning about the world. To do this, I proposed, started, and am currently the graduate mentor for a multi-disciplinary research team comprised of computer information graphics technology and mechanical engineering students to develop an augmented reality (AR) educational iPad application about nanoscience and nanotechnology tailored for young elementary students. The long-term goal of this project is to create an educational and interactive app experience to expand into the Indianapolis area and provide a method for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and metropolitan Indianapolis elementary school teachers to teach nanoscience and nanotechnology to students as young as first grade. I believe that if young students are exposed to otherwise university-level education at ages as young as 6-7, it will prime them to become passionate researchers in nanoscience and nanotechnology concepts early in their lives to become the future leaders of the research field in their later careers.
Outside of work/research, I greatly enjoy taking my fiancée and my small dogs to places in Indianapolis and the outside area and going to different local events and/or nature parks for hikes. If I can’t be found at IUPUI, I can definitely be found doing this with my fiancée!
Brian was recently awarded the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. Read more.