Grace Pakeltis is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Ms. Pakeltis previously received her Bachelor of Science from the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Department at the University of Illinois in 2017. During her career at Illinois, she gained research experience working on the fabrication of biomedical electronic devices and on thin film device synthesis. While working with the CMP, she was under the direction of Professor Kurt Sickafus and investigated defect structures and dynamics in complex oxides exposed to extreme environments. Grace worked on processing various complex oxides in high-temperature and high-pressure environments using a hot uniaxial press. To investigate the defects induced in these structures, x-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy were used as characterization tools. This investigative science can lead to the discovery of new/improved materials for applications in nuclear reactors or high-temperature thermal barrier coatings.
Beginning in May 2018, Ms. Pakeltis began work on nanoscale synthesis and characterization of plasmonic materials and architectures. Using fabrication techniques such as electron beam lithography and focused electron beam induced deposition, she is investigating interesting plasmonic signatures that can be exploited.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Ms. Pakeltis served as a graduate teaching assistant for the introductory lab course and the senior design course. She is passionate about outreach activities and helping to introduce Materials Science and Engineering to younger students. Ms. Pakeltis helped with the Materials Science and Engineering competition in the 2018 Tennessee Science Olympiad State Tournament held on the UTK campus and served as a mentor for a high school group during the week-long Materials Camp 2018. Ms. Pakeltis’ Materials Camp group was recognized as having the best presentation describing the materials mystery that the campers were charged with solving.