Doctoral student receives NSF fellowship for magnesium research

person smiling in front of material testing machine

Rogine Gomez, second-year materials science and engineering PhD student, recently received the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NSF’s GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who have proven their potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers early in their careers. Recipients are students pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at US institutions.

“Receiving this fellowship is a product of close collaborations with the people who helped me during my academic career,” said Gomez. “It is also a culmination of everything I’ve done since the beginning of my undergraduate experience. I developed a lot of skill sets through the years, and this feels like validation that what I am doing is getting me closer to reaching my personal and professional goals.”

Born in the Philippines, Gomez and her family later moved to Southern California, and she attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she studied chemical engineering. For her senior capstone project, she did a materials-related project, specifically material fabrication and corrosion, and it sparked her interest in materials research. She took a few materials electives and enjoyed them so much, she only applied for materials science doctorate programs.

Gomez chose to attend The Ohio State University because of its reputation in material science innovation. Her research focuses on magnesium’s recrystallization mechanisms and behaviors. Magnesium is the lightest structural metal, but it cannot be used as much as other metals because of its undesirable qualities, like brittleness and propensity to corrode.

Before coming to Ohio State, Gomez was unaware of the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS). During her undergraduate studies, she conducted scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) characterization and wanted to do further characterization in her doctorate studies. Being able to see what gave materials their properties inspired her to chase a new research discipline and focus on materials science.

Her GRFP proposal focuses on combining characterization and mechanical behavior research of magnesium in real time to see what causes failure. She is conducting fatigue and ultrasonic fatigue testing. She is also using CEMAS’ state-of-the-art SEM instruments to conduct electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) on samples.

“I love being able to conduct my research at CEMAS,” said Gomez. “I get to do work that not a lot of people have done when it comes to seeing material properties.”

Gomez is a member of Associate Professor Aeriel Leonard’s group in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Gomez credits Professor Leonard’s guidance and feedback as a key part in receiving the fellowship.

After graduating, Gomez intend to continue her pursuit of materials research in a national lab where she can conduct research that will benefit and serve the general public. In her doctorate studies, she has been getting trained on a lot of characterization techniques at CEMAS and would like to continue applying these techniques to solve global issues to ensure the safety and prosperity of the generations to come.

GRFP is a critical program in NSF's overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. It provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period—a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution. That support is for graduate study that leads to a research-based master's or doctoral degree in a STEM field.