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PEOPLE

Justin Wilkerson
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Education:

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

 

M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

 

B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Texas A&M University

Hometown: 

Amarillo, TX 

Justin W. Wilkerson, Ph.D.

Director, Laboratory for Nonequilibrium Phenomena
Associate Professor & Sallie and Don Davis '61 Career Development Professor
J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University 

Dr. Wilkerson's research and teaching interests lie at the interface of solid mechanics, material science, and physics. He enjoys working on a range of topics across the length and time scales, from the ultra-fast atomistic mechanisms governing deformation and failure in materials to the evolution of asteroids in our Solar System over billions of years. He is fascinated with understanding and exploiting nonequilibrium phenomena to unravel some of the mysteries of nature and to improve the human condition. 

 

In 2017, Dr. Wilkerson joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University as an assistant professor and the James J. Cain Faculty Fellow II. Prior to returning to A&M, he was an assistant professor in the at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He also spent one year as a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow with the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. Wilkerson obtained his B.S. with highest honors from Texas A&M University followed by an M.S.E and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, where he worked with the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI). 

 

Dr. Wilkerson's academic achievements have been recognized and supported by a number of honors and awards, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Harrington Faculty Fellowship, the AFOSR Young Investigator (YIP) Award, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, and the Ammon S. Andes Award presented annually to recognize the nation's top aerospace engineering graduate. 

Ph.D. Students

PH.D. STUDENTS

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Education:

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

B.S. in Applied Mathematics

University of Utah

Hometown: 

West Jordan, UT

Carl Fauver

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2019
Expected Graduation: August 2024

Research

Carl is currently performing a rigorous mathematical analysis of the crystal plasticity model developed by Dr. Thao Nguyen and Dr. Justin Wilkerson. A deeper understanding of the numerical characteristics of the model will allow for further improvements to the efficiency and robustness of implementations. It may also lead to the discovery of a new parameter of interest. His proposal earned him the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF). 

Experience

Prior to enrolling at Texas A&M, Carl studied Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics at the University of Utah earning B.S. degrees in each discipline. During his undergraduate degree, he performed material synthesis research in the Bioinspired Design Lab. Following his sophomore year at Utah, he was selected for the Los Alamos Dynamics Summer School (LADSS) where he developed a method for embedding fiber-optic sensors into additively manufactured parts. This experience led him to present at IMAC in 2018. The following summer, 2018, he was selected for the Computational Physics Student Summer Workshop at LANL. These experiences inspired him to pursue a graduate degree and remain some of the most influential times of his life.

Goals

Carl hopes to remain a lifelong student by continuing to explore the cutting edge of science. After his formal education comes to a close through his Ph.D., he intends to continue his career in research. In particular, he is looking at joining the ranks of academia as a faculty member or going into an R&D position at a national laboratory. Outside of research, Carl enjoys a wide variety of things. Virtually all games, video, board, or sport are high on the list along with spending time with family and training his dog.

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Education:

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Mississippi State University 

Hometown: 

Starkville, M

S. Caleb Foster

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2019
Expected Graduation: August 2024

Research

Caleb is currently researching physics-based models to capture and understand the properties of magnesium (Mg) alloys for ballistic and high-velocity impact (HVI) environments. Magnesium holds many benefits as the next lightweight structural material and yet very little is still understood about its behavior. By further understanding the complex interactions in magnesium alloys, Caleb hopes to contribute to the implementation of Mg alloys into mass-scale production. His proposed work in this area garnered awards from both the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program. 

Experience

Before starting at Texas A&M, Caleb obtained a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU) where he also pursued undergraduate research opportunities. These included three summer internships at the MSU Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems where he worked on various solid mechanics topics. He also spent a semester working for the Computational Mechanics and Materials Laboratory at MSU. He worked for two co-op rotations at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama which allowed him to gain industry experience and learn how research is actually implemented at the factory level. Immediately before starting graduate school at Texas A&M, he took the opportunity to work as a summer intern for Sandia National Laboratories, which provided invaluable experience and insight into the workings of a national research laboratory. 

Goals

Caleb plans to use the knowledge gained through his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University to continue a life of research in materials science and solid mechanics. He has a passion for teaching and mentoring students and hopes to work towards a faculty position at a research institution to pursue this goal. In his free time, Caleb enjoys playing sports, board games, reading, anything outdoors, shooting, working on his '88 Jeep Wrangler, playing piano, and spending time with friends. 

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Education:

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 

Hometown: 

Mission, TX

Alexandra Salinas

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2021
Expected Graduation: May 2025

Research

Alex is currently developing a project within the realm of energetic materials, more specifically polymer bonded explosives. Her research is geared towards fundamentally understanding and developing relationships between the various factors that cause polymer bonded explosives to detonate accidentally. 

Experience

Before attending Texas A&M University, Alex achieved a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in Edinburg, Texas. Within her undergraduate career, Alex gained experience in both teaching and in research. By her sophomore year at UTRGV, Alex became a teaching assistant for the Engineering Materials Laboratory and taught undergraduates the importance of preparing and testing material samples in accordance with ASTM standards, as well as familiarized the students in material testing procedures and data interpretation. By her junior year, Alex developed her interests in research through the UTRGV Center for Nanotechnology, where she assisted in the fabrication, characterization, and testing of polymer-based nanofibers used for multiple applications. Her love of learning and experience with experimental work within a laboratory setting pushed her to pursue a graduate degree.

Goals

Alex’s experiences in her undergraduate and graduate careers have solidified her passions for learning and teaching, which has her looking towards a future within academia and research within materials and mechanics. When she isn’t studying or working, you can typically find Alex working on a new puzzle, binge-watching her favorite TV shows, tending to her many plants, or venturing into town with her friends.

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Education:

B.S. in Engineering Science

B.A. in Physics

Trinity University

Hometown: 

Las Vegas, NV

Robert (Bob) Swallow

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Summer 2023
Expected Graduation: May 2027
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Education:

B.S. in Physics

Southwestern University

Hometown: 

Edinburg, TX

Alexandria Trevino

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Spring 2024
Expected Graduation: May 2025
Undergraduate Students

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

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Fuller Collins-Bilyeu
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of '25
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Luke Sherrell
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering 
Texas A&M University
Class of '25
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Mason Mock
B.S. in General Engineering 
Texas A&M University
Class of '27
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Bishop Yokubaitis
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of '25
Alumni

ALUMNI

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Jacob Rogers
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Defended: March 2024

Dissertation: Ultra-High Strain Rate Impact Behavior in High Molecular Weight Thermoplastics

 

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Joshua VanCura
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Defended: March 2024

Dissertation: Terramechanics of Soft Locomotive Mechanisms on Soft Terrains

 

Current Position: Associate at Stress Engineering Services

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Paul Mead
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering 
Texas A&M University
Defended: January 2024

Dissertation: A Study of Hard and Soft Materials Subjected to Ballistic and Hypervelocity Impact

 

Current Position: Researcher at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center

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Elizabeth File
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2024
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Travis Byrd
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2024
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Christian Ramos
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2024
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Jo Caulkins
M.S. in Computational Materials Science & Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University 
Graduated: May 2023

 

Project: Effect of Grain Boundary Misorientation on Spall Strength in Ta via Shock-Free Simulations with Relatively Few Atoms

 

Current Position: Technical Analyst at RAND Corporation

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Yuan Ji
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Defended: October, 2022

Dissertation: Development and Validation of a General Theory for the Onset of Cavitation

 

Current Position: Software Engineer at MathWorks

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Isabella Mihalic
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2022

Project: Investigation of the Role of Second-Phase Particles on Damage in Rolled Magnesium Alloy

 

Current Position: M.S. Student at Texas A&M University

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Jeremiah Elizabe
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2024
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William Scott
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2023
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Cristopher Karber
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: 2023
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Eliseo Enrique Iglesias
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering 
University of Texas at San Antonio
Defended: July
 2021

Dissertation:  Multiscale Experimental Studies on Energetic Materials

 

Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity University

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Greg Dorgant
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: May 2020

Project: A Comparison of Conventional Gel Stiffness Characterization Techniques with Cavitation Rheology

 

Current Position: Ph.D. Student at Georgia Institute of Technology

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Babak Ravaji
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Defended: March 2020

Dissertation: Multiscale Transient Thermomechanics of Heterogeneous Materials

 

Current Position: FEA Engineer at Apple

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Angela Olinger
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering 
Texas A&M University
Defended: December 2019

Thesis: Modeling of Impact Damage in Magnesium Nucleated from Realistic Microstructures

 

Current Position: Service Engineer at Southwest Airlines  

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Thao Nguyen
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Defended: March 2019

Thesis: Mesoscale Modeling of Failure of Shocked Single Crystals & Polycrystals

 

Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Tyler Rowe
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
University of Texas at San Antonio
Defended: July 2018

Thesis: Processing and Characterization of CNT Enhanced Energetic Materials

 

Current Position: Automation Engineer at Vitesco Technologies

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Mashroor Nitol
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
University of Texas at San Antonio
Defended: April 2018

Special Project: Solid Solution Weakening in Nucleation Dominated Failure

 

Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Zachary Huber
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
University of Texas at San Antonio
Defended: April 2018

Thesis: Full-Field Experimental Analysis of Ductile and Fatigue Fracture and the Accompanying Thermal Effects

 

Current Position: Engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) 

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Sara Adibi
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dissertation: On the Mechanical Properties of Novel Metallic Glass Architectures

 

Current Position: Assistant Professor at San Diego State University

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