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GRA positions

A graduate student’s principal objective is to earn a graduate degree. Appointment as a Graduate Research Associate (GRA) contributes to that objective by providing an apprenticeship experience along with financial support. This apprenticeship complements formal instruction and gives the student practical, personal experience that can be gained only by performing research activities.

GRA positions provide a number of benefits to the student:

  • Full payment of tuition and academic fees,
  • A monthly stipend typically provided on a 12 month cycle,
  • 85% payment of OSU Student Health Insurance premiums for the student,
  • Payment of computer technology fee as well as laboratory fees,
  • Payment of research-related expenses,
  • Travel costs for conference and research-related expenses may also be provided,
  • Total value of this package can be over $70,000 per year.
  • Further information about GRA appointments and benefits.

[Students are responsible for 15% of health insurance premiums as well as student-related fees. These fees total roughly $120 per month. This amount is payroll-deducted per monthly pay over the course of a four-month semester so that the student does not need to pay a large up-front fee each term.]

In exchange for these benefits the student serves on a research project available in the program. As part of the GRA agreement, the student agrees to assist his/her advisor with research work. This commitment comes to, on average, approximately 20 hours per week, though this may vary from time to time. The research project Principal Investigator will serve as the student's academic and research advisor. More about finding an advisor, below.

Please note: Since research carried out for a government and/or industrial organization is usually focused on a topic of concern to the funding source, we cannot guarantee that a student's area of interest will always match the available GRA positions for a given term.

The GRA position is our primary form of financial aid [more about financial aid in the MSE-WE department].

Current GRA openings

Due to the on-going nature of funding, new openings for the Summer-Autumn 2019 period will soon be posted below. We anticipate 15-30 funded openings for the Fall in areas such as:

  • additive manufacturing
  • nanotechnology
  • electronic, optical, and magnetic materials
  • biomaterials
  • joining/welding technology
  • environmental and energy storage materials
  • emergent materials
  • advanced characterization
  • computational materials research
  • corrosion studies and corrosion prevention
  • membranes for chemical technology
  • sensor technology
  • materials manufacture
  • composites
  • processing and structure-property relationships in structural materials

3/21/19--We continue to collect project descriptions from the faculty for Summer-Fall 2019 and will post additional GRA-funded projects below as they become available.



Sheikh Akbar

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-6725 | Office: 295 Watts Hall

  • Professor, (Ph.D., Purdue University, 1985); Ceramic materials, energy applications, sensors.


1 MS, MSE, funding confirmed

"Ultra-Harsh Environment YSZ Sensor for Hypersonic Testing Facilities"
(in collaboration with industry partner)
Involves design and fabrication of YSZ-based sensors for simultaneous measurement of temperature and oxygen content at temperatures beyond 1200 C. The project also involves development of high temperature electrode materials to replace Pt. Typical materials project involving synthesis/fabrication, structural/microstructural characterization, measurement of electrical properties and data analysis.
US citizenship is required

Vicky Doan-Nguyen

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-643-3465 | Office: 100 CEMAS

Assistant Professor (Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2015); Electrochemical energy storage Battery components; Sustainability; Advanced electron microscopy and X-ray scattering characterization techniques; Synthesis, characterization, and functional testing of novel materials for electrochemical energy storage applications and heterogeneous catalysis. [more about Dr. Doan-Nguyen's research]

3 PhD positions, MSE, funding confirmed

Nanomaterials Synthesis
The PhD student working on this project will focus on synthesis development and advanced characterization of novel nanomaterials for energy-related applications. The student will develop technical skills in solution-phase air-free synthesis techniques as well as a range of advanced characterization techniques involving electron microscopy and X-ray/neutron scattering.

Battery Materials Synthesis
The PhD student working on this project will focus on synthesis of new Li-ion and Na-ion battery materials towards faster cycling and increasing cycle life. The student will develop technical skills in solution-phase and solid-state synthesis methods as well as a range of advanced characterization techniques involving electron microscopy and X-ray/neutron scattering.

Battery Materials Characterization
The PhD student working on this project will focus on integrating materials characterization techniques (X-ray, neutron, electron microscopy) for Li-ion and Na-ion battery applications. The student will develop technical skills in advanced characterization techniques that cross-correlate X-ray/neutron and electron microscopy.


Perena Gouma

Contact: web & email | Office: 284 Watts Hall

  • Professor, Orton Chair

1-3 PhD, MSE or WE, funding confirmed--Topic: Advanced Materials

Keywords: Nanotechnology, sensors, photocatalysis, processing, combustion synthesis

Background: good team player, ambitious, reliable 


Dennis Harwig

Contact: web and email | Phone: 614-292-6888 | Office: CDME, 1314 Kinnear Rd, Suite 1533

  • Materials & Manufacturing Center (PhD, Cranfield University, 2003); additive manufacturing, manufacturing processes, materials joining tecnology, robotic welding

1 MS, WE or MSE, funding confirmed Rotating Electrode GMAW for Improved Aluminum Quality

Aluminum gas metal arc welding (GMAW) uses inert shielding gas to minimize oxidation of the weld pool and susceptibility to porosity. Current aluminum Navy requirements highly recommend the use of 100 percent helium or a helium – argon mixture for improved weld quality. Although 100 percent argon can be used; it has shown to result in porosity and lack of fusion issues particularly in thick section welds. The use of argon has also resulted in poor quality welds fabricated in shipboard and in shipyard production environments that are not highly controlled. Rotating electrode gas metal arc welding (RE-GMAW) is a variant of conventional GMAW that provides improved arc heat distribution, weld pool shape, and weld quality at lower costs. The process uses 100% argon shielding gas which is significantly less expensive than helium. Successful development and transition of RE-GMAW would result in improved weld quality and productivity as lower costs.

Objective: The objective of this work is to develop and qualify RE-GMAW for thick section aluminum. The specific goals of the work are to 1) Characterize the effects of RE-GMAW on weld quality 2) Optimize the welding parameters for range of thicknesses for structural butt weld applications 3) Evaluate representative qualifications to prove weld process and transition technology to shipyards.

Technical Approach: OSU will lead the welding parameter development and optimization. OSU will work with Austal to develop welding parameter relationships between the electrode size, current, spin diameter, frequency, and arc length will be evaluated for a range of weld bead sizes. Structural butt joints representative of LCS construction will be used for welding parameter optimization. Optimized welding parameters will be use to fabricate full penetration butt joints in the flat, horizontal, and vertical positions on at least one plate thicknesses for testing and evaluation. LIFT will provide radiographic testing support. NSWCCD will provide mechanical property and metallographic analysis support.

John Lannutti

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-3926 | Office: 448 MacQuigg Labs

  • Professor (Ph.D., University of Washington, 1990); Biomaterials for cancer research. Bio-nanosensing for disease detection. Smart tissue engineering scaffolds.

2 PhD, MSE or WE, funding not yet confirmed

Topic: Electrospun core-shell nanofiber sensors
We are actively exploring core-shell nanofiber sensors for applications involving oxygen, glucose and moisture. While the applications for these sensors appear to be very promising, much about the effects of structure and chemistry on function remains unexplored. Current sensors are not biodegradable and remain in the body indefinitely; therefore, a biodegradable sensor platform is desired to improve user perception and allow for more widespread adoption. In addition, electrospinning of these sensor platforms provides a processing approach not readily achievable through other methods which will impact the biodegradable nature, the molecular sensor aggregation/lifetime response, biocompatibility and 'injectability.'
Background required: US Citizen


Jenifer Locke

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-5868 | Office 490 WA

  • Assistant Professor (Ph.D., University of Virginia); Corrosion and environmental fracture/cracking of metals and alloys, thermo-mechanical processing effects on corrosion and environmental cracking.

1-2 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed--Atmospheric corrosion and stress corrosion cracking of stainless steels used for containment of spent nuclear fuel

Spent nuclear fuel is stored temporarily (possibly up to 100 years) in stainless steel canisters that are cooled with ambient air. This ambient air, which contains contaminants, can form corrosive electrolyte droplets on the metal surface causing corrosion. Should this corrosion exist in areas that contain high tensile stresses after welding, stress corrosion cracking can initiate and penetrate the canister possibly releasing radioactivity. One program is examining how this process occurs (atmospheric pitting and subsequent stress corrosion cracking) and another is looking at the ability of possible pitting and crack repair strategies to resist this type of degradation. The graduate student will be performing atmospheric corrosion experiments to identify and quantify corrosion and stress corrosion cracking experiments to understand the likelihood of cracking to occur after atmospheric corrosion.

Required background: At least one of the two students on this project must be a US citizen and willing to spend some summers at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico


Alan Luo

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-5629 | Office: 137 Fontana Labs

  • Professor (Ph.D., University of Windsor, 1993); advanced metallic materials for transportation applications, manufacturing processes for light metals (Al, Mg, Ti), solidification, and integrated computational materials engineering.

2 PhD positions, MSE, funding confirmed

Topic: Lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing processes 

These positions are related to lightweight material design (aluminum, magnesium, metal matrix nano-composites and super-wood) and advanced manufacturing process development (casting, forming and additive manufacturing). The projects are funded by federal agencies and industry (Alcoa, Ford, GM, Honda, etc.), and will involve both experimental investigation and computational research (material design and process simulation). 


David McComb

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-643-3462 | Office: CEMAS Facility

  • Professor and Ohio Research Scholar (Ph.D. Cambridge University, 1990), Director, Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis; Electron microscopy & spectroscopy; electronic materials; magnetic materials; functional oxides; energy materials; biomaterials.

The McComb group is a highly-collaborative and multidisciplinary environment focused on the development and application of state-of-the-art electron microscopy methods to tackle major challenges in a wide range of materials.  Currently we have projects in 2D materials, oxide materials for spintronics, magnetic materials, materials for energy, biomaterials and semiconducting materials.  Students are currently needed in several areas as described below.  Most projects are collaborative with advisors in other disciplines, with students often working in a team. 
Background: A strong interest in advanced materials characterization techniques is essential. Non-MSE and interdisciplinary backgrounds are very welcome.

1 PhD, MSE or WE, funding confirmed

"Developing electron microscopy methods to understand the role of MMP20 on the biomechanical properties of the dentin-enamel junction"
This a fully funded studentship on an NIH RO1 project jointly with Professor John, Bartlett, College of Dentistry, OSU. 

The dentin–enamel junction (DEJ) is the zone between two distinct calcified tissues with very different biomechanical properties. Generally, interfaces between materials with dissimilar mechanical properties represent “weak links” in a structure. However, the DEJ plays a critical role in enhancing biomechanical integrity and resistance to fracture. Our collaborator (Prof. Bartlett, College of Dentistry) had outstanding transgenic mouse models to address the mechanism of how the DEJ becomes such a tough and resilient structure. Mmp20 ablated mice have enamel that falls off the dentin surface and our Mmp20 overexpressing mice also have a very weak DEJ. It is hypothesized that basement membrane and enamel matrix proteins must be precisely and progressively cleaved to facilitate proper DEJ formation.

In this project we will develop and apply new imaging approaches, such as focused ion beam (FIB) microscopy and scanning- transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to probe subtle changes in the developmental processof DEJ formation by providing ultra-high resolution images and analytical signals that enable structural and chemical analyses from site-specific regions. This will allow for a precise timing assessment of when the basement membrane starts to degrade in the continuously erupting incisor and when the subsequent events necessary for DEJ formation occur. FIB instruments will be used to perform pseudo-tomography to create 3-D reconstructions of the DEJ. Then, by use of in situ nanomanipulators, cross-sectional specimens of the precise region of interest will be prepared and extracted for high resolution STEM studies. The aberration corrected analytical STEMs available at CEMAS will enable the structure and chemistry around the DEJ to be investigated with unprecedented spatial and energy resolution. The FIB and STEM techniques performed in combination will allow us to target the little-investigated area of molecular events necessary for DEJ formation, and to determine how such dissimilar materials can bind togetherso strongly. 

Required: Interest in advanced characterization methods and understanding hard-soft interfaces 

1-2 PhD, MSE or WE, funding confirmed

"Emergence of cryo-EM as a technique for materials research"
One position will be in area of complex oxides for quantum materials.
The second position could be in battery materials - some flexibility based on interests/skills of candidates.

The progress in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) over the last two decades has been described as revolutionary. New electron optics for physical sciences deliver a stability that has fueled research into novel cryo-EM platforms that can maintain samples at close to liquid nitrogen temperatures for days without vibrations or thermal drift that previously limited resolution. More importantly, the direct electron detectors that have largely replaced CCDs are capable of counting single electrons resulting in images from very low signals that may then be rapidly added and aligned to resolve individual molecules at atomic resolution. This technological advance has led to the explosion of single particle analysis (SPA) in cryo-EM that has superseded X-ray crystallography as the key technique for solving macromolecular structures in life sciences.

This project will focus on the emergence of cryo-EM as a technique for MATERIALS research. Potential areas of application include investigation of low temperature phenomena in quantum materials, studying solid-liquid interfaces for energy materials and corrosion research, high resolution characterization of molecular and polymeric materials, novel low-temperature advanced alloys and the investigation of soft condensed matter. From the combination of stable cryogenic conditions with the imaging and analytical capabilities of aberration-corrected electron microscopes, new fields of research are developing that show great promise for the emergence of cryo-EM as a technique for materials research.  

Required: Desire to develop and apply new cryogenic methodologies to multidisciplinary challenges. 


Michael Mills

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-643-3463 | Office: CEMAS

  • Professor; fields of study: Electron optics, Charaterization of advanced materials, Mechanical properties and deformation, Metallurgy.

1 PhD, MSE, funding not yet confirmed

Topic: Compositionally complex alloys/superalloys--Developing new alloys for extreme properties guided by computation. Please contact Dr. Mills for more about this project.

Roberto Myers

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-8439 | Office: 476 Watts Hall | Myers Group

  • Professor, (Ph.D., University of California Santa Barbara, 2006); Electronic materials, optical materials, wide bandgap semiconductors.

2 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed

Topic: Molecular beam epitaxy, atomic layer by layer synthesis of nanomaterials. Multiferroic artificial superlattices. Scalable nanomanufacturing, Nanowire optoelectronics on metal. Spin/ heat coupling and thermoelectric phenomena.


Chris Taylor

Contact: web & email

  • Research Associate Professor

1 PhD position, funding confirmed--"Atomistic Modeling of Corrosion and Oxidation of Metals"

The research topic involves the simulation using atomistic modeling of the reactions of metal and alloy surfaces with gases in an automobile combustion environment.

Background Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science and Engineering background. Good at math and computer programming desirable.


Yunzhi Wang

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-0682 | Office: 5064 Smith Labs

  • Professor (Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1995); Phase transformation, plastic deformation, and microstructure – property relationship in structural (Ni-base superalloys and light alloys (Ti, Al, Mg), bulk metallic glass, etc.) and functional (shape memory alloys, ferroelectrics and ferromagnetics) materials.

1 PhD position, MSE, funding confirmed

Topic: Developing highly efficient simulation tools for microstructural evolution during thermomechanical processing in multi-component alloys. Project will involve working with a materials software company to develop highly efficient full-field microstructure simulation tools for industrial applications.

Desired background: Materials Science, Physics, Metallurgy, Numerical and computational skills 

1 PhD position, MSE, funding confirmed

ICME Study of Correlation between Deformation and Precipitation in Structural Aluminum Alloys

Precipitation hardening is the main strengthening mechanism in structural Al-alloys. It is shown experimentally that size and spatial distribution of precipitates are quite different between samples with and without pre-deformation. Because of the intimate coupling between microstructure and property in Al-alloys, there are ample opportunities to utilize pre-deformation to control precipitate microstructure for unprecedented properties. ICME approach has been proven efficient and powerful for such study. In this proposal, multi-scale phase-field models incorporating ab initio and Calphad data, and integrated with FFT-CP will be adopted to study precipitate-dislocation interactions during both precipitation and deformation, establishing a robust processing-microstructure-property relationship.


Wei Zhang

Contact: web and email | Phone: 614-292-0522 | Office: 120 Edison Joining Technology Center

  • Professor (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 2004); Additive manufacturing of metals (powder bed and blown-powder), Light-metal and dissimilar-metal joining for transportation (automotive, shipbuilding etc.), Creep-resistance steels and alloys for power generation, and Modeling of welding and additive manufacturing processes and materials.

1 MS or PhD position, WE or MSE, funding confirmed

Topic: Distortion during additive manufacturing of aluminum alloy 
Developing and applying computational mechanics model to study distortion during additive manufacturing of aluminum alloy 


J.-C. Zhao

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-9462 | Office: 286 Watts Hall

  • Professor (Ph.D., Lehigh University, 1995); 12 year experience at GE with 48 US patents, development of materials property microscopy tools, advanced alloys for biomedical implants, automobiles, steam turbines, gas turbines, and jet engines. 

1-3 PhD position, MSE or WE, funding not yet confirmed

Additive manufacturing and alloy design of high-temperature superalloys
Development of cost-effective methods to improve the recycling for lightweight Al alloys for sustainability
Study of diffusion and kinetics for nuclear energy (non-radioactive materials)

Background required: Strong fundamentals in materials science, physics or mechanical engineering; passion for excellence; passion on both hands-on experimental research and modeling; and curiosity and drive to find innovative solutions. 


Finding an advisor

For newly admitted students:

The MSE dept. does not assign new students to an advisor; instead, we ask that you meet with each of the faculty who have openings. The professor you work with will act as your academic and research advisor during your graduate studies at Ohio State.

Above, please find the list of available funded research positions. Please meet first with faculty who have openings in your area(s) of interest. If, after meeting with these professors, you do not have an advisor, please meet with the remaining faculty on the list who have openings and come to an agreement to work with one of these faculty. Important: You are required to find an advisor from the funded openings available in the department. This should occur during your first term of enrollment.

You are strongly encouraged to contact any faculty member above who shares your field of interest. Contacting the faculty prior to your arrival on campus can help speed your placement on a research project.

Every effort is made to match you with a project in your field of interest. However, we have only a few positions, each of which has a narrow research focus. Therefore, you may find that the area of research you will be working in is not an exact match with your interests.

When you have found an advisor, inform the department Human Resources Officer in 176 Watts Hall and Mark Cooper in 5027 Smith Labs.