PEOPLE

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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
Assistant Professor & James J. Cain Faculty Fellow 
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 Harrington Faculty Fellowship, the AFOSR Young Investigator (YIP) Award, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, the National Science Foundation (NSF) 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

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Education:

B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University 

Hometown: 

Harbin, China 

Yuan Ji

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2018
Expected Graduation: August 2023
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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: May 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, MS 

Caleb Foster

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2019
Expected Graduation: May 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  Aerospace Engineering

Mississippi State University 

Hometown: 

Lucedale, MS 

Jacob Rogers

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2019
Expected Graduation: May 2023

Research

Upon admission to Texas A&M University (TAMU) and under the guidance of co-advisors Dr. Thomas Lacy and Dr. Just Wilkerson, Jacob received a graduate research assistant (GAR) position and was also awarded a Mechanical Engineering Graduate Merit Fellowship. During spring of 2020, Jacob was awarded the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical 2020 Graduate Summer Research Grant for his research on novel protective structure concepts. His current research on novel, tailored polymeric materials and structures to mitigate HVI threats enabled him to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship. Using his over five years of HVI and aeroballistic range experience, Jacob led the effort to establish the state-of-the-art TAMU Hypervelocity Impact Laboratory (HVIL). At the HVIL, he currently serves as lab manager, studying HVI (2.5-8.0 km/s) phenomena and materials for extreme environments. Over the short time since HVIL’s launch, Jacob and the HVIL team have performed over 300 HVI experiments and made numerous advancements in diagnostics, experimental capabilities, and two-stage light gas gun (2SLGG) operational efficiency. His research interests also include computational mechanics, hypersonics, ultra-high strain-rate materials, and micrometeoroid/orbital debris (MMOD) impacts. 

Experience

Jacob is currently a Ph.D. student in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering with a background in solid mechanics, hypervelocity impact damage mechanics, and aeroballistic range testing. He completed his undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU) in May of 2019. While at MSU, he was named a Stephen D. Lee Scholar and awarded Aerospace Engineering Student of the Year (2019), multiple first-place research symposium awards, and two undergraduate research fellowships. He researched hypervelocity impacts (HVIs) and conducted full-scale 2SLGG experiments under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Lacy for much of his undergraduate career. He has supplemented his time spent on research with time dedicated to mentorship and leadership, mentoring multiple undergraduate design teams. He is currently the president of MEGSO and a member of ASME, AIAA, and International Ballistics Society (IBS), as well as the Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Gamma Tau, and Sigma Xi academic honor societies.

Goals

Jacob plans to use his experience at TAMU studying HVI phenomena to propel him into an academic career of contributions to science and society. Specifically, he intends to conduct novel research that will advance the scientific knowledge of HVI physics and improve society by developing cutting-edge protective structures that will better protect against emerging space and military threats. Jacob’s planned research efforts will be coupled with a career of teaching and mentoring students. Through implementing the latest technology and collaborating with other departments, universities, and organizations, he ultimately wants to solve some of the most complicated engineering problems.

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Education:

B.S. in  Aerospace Engineering

Mississippi State University 

Hometown: 

Kingwood, TX​

Paul Mead

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Fall 2019
Expected Graduation: May 2023
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Education:

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Texas A&M University 

Hometown: 

Allen, TX 

Joshua VanCura

Ph.D. Student in Mechanical Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Spring 2020
Expected Graduation: December 2024
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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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Joseph Caulkins

M.S. Student in Computational Materials Science & Engineering
Joined NEPLab in Spring 2020
Expected Graduation: May 2022
 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

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Isabella Mihalic
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University 
Class of '22
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William Scott
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '23
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Christopher Karber
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '23
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Elizabeth File
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '24
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Travis Byrd
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '24
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Christian Ramos
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '24
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Jeremiah Elizabe
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Class of  '24
 

ALUMNI

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Matthew Bui

January 2020 - May 2022

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
Graduated: May, 2022

Project: Fragmentation Analysis of High Strain Rates and Internal Defects on Ceramic Materials

 

Current Position: M.S. Student at Georgia Institute of Technology 

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Eliseo Enrique Iglesias

August 2015 - July 2021

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
University of Texas at San Antonio
Defended: July, 2021

Dissertation: Multiscale Experimental Studies on Energetic Materials

 

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Greg Dorgant

August 2019 - May 2020

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

April 2016 - March 2020

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

Thesis: Multiscale Transient Thermomechanics of Heterogeneous Materials

 

Current Position: FEA Engineer at Apple

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Angela Olinger

August 2018 - December 2019

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M UniversityDefended: December, 2019

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

 

Current Position: Engineer at L3 Aerospace Systems  

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Thao Nguyen

January 2015 - October 2019

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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Sara Adibi

March 2016 - August 2018

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore
Defended: 2015

Thesis: On the Mechanical Properties of Novel Metallic Glass Architectures

 

Current Position: Assistant Research Professor at Mississippi State University 

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Tyler Rowe 

May 2016 - July 2018

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: Engineer at Continental

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Mashroor Nitol

March 2016 - April 2018

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: Ph.D. student at Mississippi State University

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Zachary Huber

March 2015 - April 2017

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)