Dr. Sinnott received her B.S. degree with honors in Chemistry from the University of Texas in 1987 and her doctoral degree in Physical Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1993. From there, she joined the Naval Research Laboratory, Surface Chemical Branch, in Washington D.C. as a National Research Council Post Doctoral Associate until 1995. Afterwards, Dr. Sinnott became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky through 2000. She then began her tenure at the University of Florida, where she was an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering until her promotion in 2005 to the rank of Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. In 2007 she became an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and in 2012 she was named the Alumni Professor of Materials Science. Dr. Sinnott also became a member of the Quantum Theory Project in 2011 and the Director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Atomistic Simulation (CAMS) in 2012. In 2015 Dr. Sinnott joined the Pennsylvania State University as Professor and Department Head of Materials Science and Engineering.
This faculty member is associated with the Penn State Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IGDP) in Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) where a multitude of perspectives and cross-disciplinary collaboration within research is highly valued. Graduate students in the IGDP in MatSE may work with faculty members from across Penn State.
Dr. Sinnott’s research program uses computational atomistic methods to design and investigate materials. This area has seen tremendous growth in the last two decades because of a combination of factors, including the increasing availability and low cost of fast computers, the refinement of atomistic methods, the shrinking of device dimensions, and the improved ability of experimentalists to study materials at the nanometer scale. It approaches well-established continuum level modeling (such as finite element analysis) and fluid dynamics at high length scales (100s-1000s nanometers), and overlaps with traditional physics and chemistry at small length scales (1-10 nanometers). The specific materials examined in my group include polymers, ceramics, metals, and electronic materials.
Research in the Sinnott Group is focused on the application of computational methods at the electronic-structure and atomic scales to (1) examine the chemical modification of polymer and composite surfaces; (2) investigate the influence of grain boundaries, point defects, and heterogeneous interfaces on material properties; (3) design materials using a combination of computational methods, experiment, and data informatics within an interdisciplinary research team; and (4) determine the physical, chemical, optical and electrical properties of surfaces, nanostructures, and doped materials.
A major area of emphasis is the development of inventive methods to enable the modeling of new material systems at the atomic level. This includes extending a very popular reactive atomic-scale method to model hydrocarbon and carbon-based systems to include fluorine, oxygen, and sulfur. Reactive methods allow for bond breaking and new bond formation to occur during a simulation and are thus distinguishable from the force fields used in biological studies that are primarily used to optimize molecular geometries. A many-body, reactive method has also been developed to model molybdenum disulfide, a material of interest as a solid-state lubricant and of increasing interest as a graphene-like lamellar material. Current efforts are focused on development and extension of a reactive method that allows for the modeling of heterogeneous systems that include materials with covalent, metallic, and ionic bonding within the same unit cell. This approach, the charge optimized many-body (COMB) potentials for the atomic-scale modeling of materials, has been incorporated into the open-source massively parallel molecular dynamics software developed at Sandia National Laboratory to make them available to the scientific and engineering communities after rigorous testing.
- AVS Medard W. Welch Award, 2022
- Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement, 2022
- Editor-in-Chief of Computational Materials Science since 2014
- Fellow of the American Physical Society since 2013
- Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society since 2013
- Fellow of the Materials Research Society since 2012
- Principal Editor of the Journal of Materials Research since 2012
- Fellow of the American Ceramic Society since 2011
- American Institute of Physics Advisory Committee on Physics Today since 2011
- University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, 2011-2013
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 2010
- University of Florida Blue Key Distinguished Professor, 2010-2011
- Divisional Associated Editor of Physical Review Letters since 2009
- University of Florida College of Engineering Doctoral Dissertation Mentoring Award, 2009
- University of Florida Faculty Excellence Award, 2008
- University of Florida Faculty Excellence Award, 2006
- Fellow of the American Vacuum Society since 2005
- University of Florida Faculty Excellence Award, 2005
- NSF Award for Special Creativity, 2005
- University of Florida College of Engineering Teacher/Scholar of the Year Award, 2005
- University of Florida Faculty Excellence Award, 2003
- University of Florida Faculty Excellence Award, 2002
- Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow, 2001
- University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Tau Beta Pi, Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award - Materials Program, 2000
- University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Tau Beta Pi, and Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award - Materials Program, 1998
- Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Engineering, 1996