Materials science student awarded prestigious NSF Fellowship

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 14:44

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Jessica Rimsza, a first-year graduate student at the University of North Texas, recently was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to further her research in materials science and engineering.

"I am excited to receive the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship because it will allow me to pursue research projects that truly interest me," said Rimsza.

Rimsza has been working with Dr. Jincheng Du on a project aimed at developing improved materials for semiconductors since arriving at UNT in January. The project is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation. She says she plans to use her NSF stipend, which amounts to up to $90,000 over a five period, to pursue research on glass-based systems.

Rimsza says she has wanted to be an engineer for a while, but decided to pursue materials science because of the applied nature of the field.

"Materials science is applicable in a wide variety of fields, so there is a broader impact. Everything is made of materials," said Rimsza.

Earlier this year, Jennifer Williams a graduate student in electrical engineering became the first student from UNT's College of Engineering to win the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Rimsza is the second student from the College of Engineering to win the award and the eighth UNT student overall.

The program is open to students pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive up to $30,000 to fund their research for three years out of a five year period. They also receive international research and professional development opportunities.

Rimsza earned her bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Arizona in December 2011, after only three and a half years of study. While at UA, she worked in Dr. Renee Corrales' lab developing liquids for semiconductor cleaning. Earlier this year her research was published in the Journal of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry.

As Rimsza was finishing her undergraduate degree, Corrales suggested she consider working with Du at UNT for her graduate work. Corrales and Du previously worked together at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Rimsza took a weekend trip from Houston, where she was interning for ExxonMobil's Materials and Corrosion Group, to visit the campus and decided it was the right fit for her.

"I think I made a really good choice. It's nice to have all of the new equipment and everyone at UNT is really friendly. It is really a graduate student friendly school," said Rimsza.

After her graduation in 2016, she hopes to eventually work as a researcher and professor in academia.

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