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Materials Research Society

The Materials Research Society (MRS) chapter at UNC is a graduate student organization that is committed to fostering a community of collaboration, outreach and professional development. We organize seminars and a local poster competition to encourage sharing research. We are passionate about hosting and volunteering at a variety of new and annual outreach events to spread knowledge about materials science. For graduate student professional development, we coordinate panels and seminars to connect graduate students to industry and academic professionals. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, please contact Maggie Daly!

Professional Development Events

MRS offers several events for graduate students to develop key skills and network with scientific professionals. Here are a few of the annual events that we host.

Triangle Student Research Competition (TSRC)
In October, MRS hosts the TSRC, a poster session and networking event for students in the Triangle to showcase their research, practice for national conferences, and compete for great prizes. Industry representatives from various companies attend and judge the poster session. Participants receive a door gift, dinner, drinks, the chance to win prizes based on judging, and the opportunity to network with industry sponsors from the surrounding area.

NSF GRFP Writing workshop
MRS also coordinates the NSF GRFP Peer Review Workshop for senior undergraduates and first/second year graduate students. During this event, NSF GRFP fellows meet 1-on-1 with applicants to provide feedback on their personal and research statements. In the past, approximately 20% of the applicants who attended this event were awarded NSF GRFP fellowships.

Outreach Opportunities

MRS is committed to promoting science education in our community, and our members take an active role in designing and coordinating outreach events. Here we highlight a few examples of the outreach opportunities (past and present) that we have developed.

Material Science High School Days – For this event, we hosted over 50 high school students and their parents on campus to give them insight into what it is like to do research in materials science and how to get involved in research during high school and college. This has been one of our most popular events, and helped introduce students from diverse backgrounds to research opportunities and the importance of materials science.

UNC Science Expo – Each year, our chapter participates in the Science Expo, where over 10,000 people from the Triangle area come to UNC’s campus to learn about science. This event gives members the opportunity to interact with the broader community, introducing them to scientific concepts through fun demos.

Middle School Materials Science Days – This year, we are coordinating visits with middle schools in NC that have underfunded science programs. During these visits, we hope to build relationships with schools and teachers and help introduce students to new areas of science.

Letters to a Pre-Scientist – This pen pal program cultivates one on one relationships between students and real STEM professionals. We aim to humanize STEM professionals, demystify STEM career pathways, and inspire all students to explore a future in STEM by engaging middle school students in reading and writing during science class.


2020-2021 MRS Officers

Madeline Stark Madeline Stark, President
Madeline received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and is currently a 5th year graduate student in Scott Warren’s lab. Her research focuses on tuning the optical properties of layered materials and characterizing intercalation reactions through in-situ techniques. Outside of lab, Madeline enjoys participating in science outreach, attending UNC basketball games, going to Maple View for ice cream, waterskiing, cooking, and playing tennis.

Maggie Daly headshotMaggie Daly, Vice President
My name is Maggie Daly, and I am a 4th year Materials Science PhD candidate in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences. With Dr. Ronit Freeman, I research the design and use of dynamic, reconfigurable biomaterials built with biological building blocks like peptides and DNA. I’ve enjoyed being a part of MRS over the past three years, and my favorite MRS events are TSRC and showing demos at the Science Expo.

Jacob Pawlik headshotJacob Pawlik, Treasurer
5th year Ph.D. candidate, polymer/materials division, The Warren Lab Undergraduate education at Appalachian State University, now studying new materials for fluoride-ion batteries. Specializes in solid-state synthesis and electrochemical testing.

Stephanie Samson headshotStephanie Samson, Secretary
I am a fourth-year graduate student in the You Group. My research focuses on the fabrication and characterization of organic photovoltaic devices to elucidate structure-property relationships and explore materials that may afford enhanced mechanical resilience and stability. I’m originally from CA, but have lived in NC since 2014, where I worked locally at DuPont for several years before deciding to pursue higher education.

Corban Murphey headshotCorban Murphey, Social/Fundraising Chair
I’m a (rising) third-year in the Cahoon lab studying nanophotonics. I’m from Erie, PA and did my undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. I also serve on the board for the Association of Chemistry Graduate Students. In my free time I like hanging with my dog, doing all the sports, and science communication!

Anna Fraser headshotAnna Fraser, Outreach Chair #1
I attended undergrad in my hometown of Knoxville, majoring in Chemistry and Geography at the University of Tennessee. After graduating in 2017, I moved to Chapel Hill to pursue a PhD in Polymer Chemistry at the University of North Carolina. I currently work on the fabrication and characterization of novel polyamides for water purification applications. Outside of lab, I enjoy cooking (and eating), trail running, biking, and watching movies.

Kyle Cushman headshotKyle Cushman, Outreach Chair #2
My name is Kyle Cushman and a rising third-year graduate student in the You Group. My research involves making novel conductive and stretchable materials by using complex brush networks. I’m interested in conductive polymers and traditional polymer chemistry. I’m originally from Michigan and attended Hope College for my undergraduate studies. I’ve been living in Chapel Hill since 2018 with my wife Brooke, cat, and our son Henry.

Not pictured:

Mitchell Maw, Polymer/Materials Liaison
Sarah Sutton, PChem Liaison