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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 us at!

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.


2022-2023 MRS Officers

John Migliore John Migliore, President
I am a third-year chemistry student in the Dingemans Lab in the Applied Physical Sciences Department. I grew up in Barrington, IL and did my undergraduate studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am currently researching the fundamental self-assembly properties of a liquid-crystal, rigid-rod polyelectrolyte. I also serve as Secretary for Science in the Stacks, a STEM outreach organization at UNC. Outside of lab I enjoy coaching and playing ice hockey.

Karen Ehrhardt headshotKaren Ehrhardt, Vice President
My name is Karen Ehrhardt and I am a third-year graduate student in the Warren lab. My research focuses on developing synthetic methods for freestanding amorphous 2D materials and characterizing them via electron diffraction techniques. I attended Carleton College while majoring in Chemistry for my undergraduate studies. In my free time, I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee and cooking.

Lauren McRae headshotLauren McRae, Treasurer
Lauren received her bachelors in chemistry from the University of Richmond, where she studied the structure and dynamics of proteins using computation. She is now a 5th-year graduate student in Scott Warren’s group studying a combination of computational and experimental approaches to the discovery and synthesis of new crystalline phases. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on UNC at sports events and exploring new areas around the triangle.

Becca Radomsky headshotBecca Radomsky, Secretary
I am a third-year Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate in Warren Lab working on materials discovery for alternates to Li-ion batteries. I attended the University of Notre Dame for undergrad, where I got my degree in Chemistry with a minor in Science Policy. In my free time, I like to play golf, paint, read, and drink tea. Feel free to stop by the Warren Lab for a cup of tea with me sometime!

Samantha Litvin headshotSamantha Litvin, Social/Fundraising Chair
I’m a fourth-year materials graduate student in the Cahoon lab studying semiconductor nanomaterials for solar energy. I grew up near the Baltimore, MD area and went to undergrad at the University of MD in College Park. Upon graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I worked for three years as an analytical toxicology chemist for the DoD/US Army. Wanting to pursue a career path in materials and sustainable energy, I moved to NC and started grad school here at UNC in 2019. In addition to being a chemist, I also play the violin and did community orchestra and freelance work back in MD. In my free time, I enjoy anything music related, reading, playing field hockey, and going to the beach.

Don McTaggart headshotDon McTaggart, Outreach Chair #1
I am a rising second-year in the Warren Lab researching fluoride-ion battery electrode materials. I grew up near Asheville, NC and attended undergrad at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Outside of lab I enjoy playing soccer, walking in the woods, reading, and cooking. If you’ve made it this far email me and I’ll Venmo you $1.

Alicia Bryan headshotAlicia Bryan, Outreach Chair #2
I’m a third-year PhD candidate in the Cahoon lab working on vapor-phase fabrication of hybrid perovskite materials. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA, and received my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Old Dominion University. My passion for STEM education is what motivated me to run for one of the MRS outreach chair positions this year, and I also serve on the officer board of UNC’s Science in the Stacks organization. When I’m not in the lab, I love spending my time rock climbing, playing the flute, or drinking coffee.


Jennica Kelm headshotJennica Kelm, Inorganic Chemistry Liaison
My name is Jennica Kelm and I am a 3rd year graduate student in the Dempsey lab where my research focuses on understanding surface defects on semiconductor quantum dots for renewable energy applications. I am originally from Colorado but received my B.S. in chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. Outside lab, I enjoy hiking with my dog, camping, and traveling when possible.

Kameryn Hinton headshotKameryn Hinton, APS Liaison
My name is Kameryn Hinton and I am a rising 3rd year graduate student in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences (APS). Under the mentorship of Prof. Ronit Freeman, I research the design of biomimetic materials that can be used to create active matter and bioinspired hierarchical structures. Outside of the lab, I enjoy singing, writing poetry, as well as making plant-based cosmetic products.

Sam Bottum headshotSam Bottum, Physical Chemistry Liaison
I am a third-year graduate student in Jim Cahoon’s lab. I study the use of high-voltage multijunction silicon nanowires for use as particulate photocatalysts for CO2 reduction. I grew up in Chicago and got my BS in Chemistry from the University of Richmond.