November 2012

Discovering Next Generation Applications For Materials

Dr. Mitra Taheri has been a standout addition to Drexel University as the Hoeganaes Assistant Professor of Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering since joining in 2008. Over the past year, Dr.Taheri’s hard work has placed her in an elite group of Junior Faculty.

Dr. Taheri’s proposal was one of only 68 selected from 850 submissions to receive the 2012 Department of Energy (DOE) 2012 Early Career Research Grant for her study on nanocrystalline materials and the ability of these materials to withstand high doses of radiation in future advanced nuclear reactors. This accomplishment distinguishes Dr. Taheri as the first-ever faculty member at Drexel to earn the honor.

In addition to her DOE award, Dr. Taheri has received four separate awards from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) since the start of 2011. She was awarded with funding twice as a PI and once with a team, as well as earning the 2011 ONR Summer Faculty Fellowship.

As the ONR is an executive branch agency within the Department of Defense, receiving their awards are extremely competitive. Dr. Taheri’s research investigating new aluminum alloys for naval ships to be more corrosion resistant could have a significant impact toward cutting US Navy corrosion repair costs, which exceed $66M annually.

“A lot of my research concentrates on materials for next generation energy applications, like electronic vehicles, solar, advanced nuclear and wind power,” Taheri explained. “Part of my role at Drexel is to add innovative technologies and capabilities to the University and contribute new insight into predicting materials behavior.”

Microstructural characterization and in situ Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) of materials are central to Taheri’s research. In situ TEM allows her to look at materials as they are behaving in operating environments. For example, she’s able to examine a structural material while it is failing, rather than after it has already failed.

Much of Dr. Taheri’s research intertwines. Dr. Taheri received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development grant (NSF-CAREER) to analyze the combined effects temperature, environment, and grain boundary type on corrosion-causing precipitation mechanisms, similar to her ONR research.

The NSF-CAREER Program offers the most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.