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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

4/19/19--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.


FILLED--1 MS, MSE, funding confirmed

"Ultra-Harsh Environment YSZ Sensor for Hypersonic Testing Facilities"

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

2 of these 3 positions have been filled, please contact Dr. Doan-Nguyen for further details.

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.



Gerald Frankel

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-688-4128 | Office: 544 MacQuigg Labs

  • Director, Fontana Corrosion Center (FCC) and Professor (Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1985); corrosion, electrochemistry and embrittlement.

1 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed (new 4/19/19)

Field of corrosion, please contact Dr. Frankel for project details



Perena Gouma

Contact: web & email | Office: 284 Watts Hall

  • Professor, Orton Chair

1 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

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

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.

1 PhD, MSE or WE, funding not yet confirmed

Topic: general field of biomaterials, please contact Dr. Lannutti for details.



Xun Liu

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-8915 | Office 118 EJTC

  • Assistant Professor (Ph.D., University of Michigan); Advanced Manufacturing Processing, Solid State Joining of Dissimilar Materials, Forming, and Casting.

2 PhD, MSE or WE, funding confirmed (new 4/12/19)--Study of microalloying elements on weld metal mechanical properties

This project will involve thermodynamic and kinetic analysis on the microstructure evolution during welding process, along with multi-scale material characterizations.


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.

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


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.

FILLED--2 PhD positions, MSE, funding confirmed

Topic: Lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing processes 


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 

FILLED--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.


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.


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.


Antonio Ramirez

Contact: web and email | Phone: 614-292-8662 | Office: 130 Edison Joining Technology Center

  • Professor (Ph.D., Un of Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2011); Welded/joined metallic materials; arc welding processes; solid state processes; friction stir welding; additive manufacturing.

1 PhD position, WE, funding confirmed--Please contact Dr. Ramirez for details on this project.



Chris Taylor

Contact: web & email

  • Research Associate Professor

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


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. 

FILLED--2 PhD position, MSE


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.