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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 12 month cycles,
  • 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 nearly $60,000 per year.
  • Further information about GRA appointments and benefits. Includes a basic description of benefits as well as a Benefit Overview Booklet for download.

[Students are responsible for 15% of health insurance premiums as well as student-related fees. This totals roughly $460 per four-month term or $115 will be payroll-deducted per monthly pay.]

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].


Please contact Mark Cooper (email, 614-292-7280, 143 Fontana Lab) with any questions you might have.

Current GRA openings

Provides number of openings, graduate program (MSE or WE), funding status, position description, and contact info for primary investigator(s).

Peter Anderson & Michael Mills

Peter Anderson: web & email | Phone: 614-292-0176 | Office: 492 Watts Hall

  • Professor (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1986); Mechanical properties and underlying physics of deformation, with applications to metals, shape memory alloys, nanostructured materials, and tissue scaffolds. Computational methods for mechanical behavior.

Michael Mills: web & email | Phone: 614-292-7514 | Office: 478 Watts Hall

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

1 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed--this position will be working on one of the projects described below, please contact Drs. Anderson and Mills for further information.

Coupled Transformation and Deformation Mechanisms in Nanostructured Shape Memory Alloys 

This proposed renewal effort will provide fundamental insights into shape memory alloys (SMAs), with a focus on three key behaviors that often limit their application: transformation temperature, transformation strain and permanent strain. The core of the effort will focus on an emerging new class of high temperature shape memory alloys (HTSMAs), i.e., Ni(Ti,Hf) alloys, that are known to exhibit high transformation temperatures, large transformation strain and small permanent strain, and are exciting candidates for actuators and adaptive components in a wide range of energy and transportation applications. These alloys could also have unprecedented structural applications. First, we will explore the extremely strong composition effects on transformation temperature and critical strengths of the Ni(Ti,Hf) alloys. Second, we will rigorously evaluate competing hypotheses for defect formation and the extraordinary grain refinement observed in association with the martensitic transformation. An exciting outcome could be a new design concept for SMAs – transformation pathway engineering – whereby processing strategies are postulated to create (a) microstructures that are extremely resistant to defect generation and (b) nanocrystalline microstructures that have a large fraction of special grain boundaries. Third, we will pursue an integrated simulation and experimental approach to fundamentally understand the effect of nanoscale precipitates on the behavior of SMAs. Advanced characterization efforts, coupled with theoretical modeling and computer simulation at key microstructure length scales, will provide deep insight into these key characteristics that often limit the SMA performance.

  • Desired background:
    Students who are interested in characterization, mechanical testing, and simulations of shape memory alloy performance.

Adaptive bio-inspired aerospace structures actuated by shape memory alloys

This project couples the experimental and theoretical/computational skills at the Ohio State University, University of Toledo, Case Western Reserve University, and NASA-Glenn to design, produce, characterize and assess the performance of a new class of high-temperature shape memory alloys that are produced using powder-based, additive manufacturing (AM) techniques. This AM technique offers potential new design strategies for shape memory alloys, including 2D honeycomb, 3D foam, and other porous structures that maximum work output and weight.

  • Desired background:
    Students with an interest in characterization, mechanical testing, and simulations of materials are encouraged to apply.

Jennifer Locke

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-292-5868| Office: 546 MacQuigg Labs

  • Assistant Professor (Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2010); Corrosion and environmental fracture/cracking of metals and alloys, thermo-mechanical processing effects on corrosion and environmental cracking.

1 PhD, MSE--This position is no longer available.

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.

1 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed--"Development of Lightweight Structural Castings Using an Integrated Computational Materials Engineering Approach” funded by National Science Foundation. The project includes both simulation and experimental work. It will also involve close collaboration with industrial partners.

Michael Sumption

Contact: web & email | Phone: 614-688-3684 | Office: 394 Watts Hall

Professor (Ph.D., Ohio University, 1992); Assistant Director, Center for Applied Superconductivity and Magnetism (CSMM); Superconductivity.

2 PhD, MSE, funding confirmed--Please contact Dr. Sumption for details on this project.

Wei Zhang

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

  • Associate Professor (PhD, Pennsylvania State University, 2004); Computational modeling of materials-processing-property relationship in manufacturing processes; Multi-material joining for automotive and aerospace structures; Advanced experimental techniques in support of computational modeling.

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

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 143 Fontana Lab.