Welcoming new faces to MatSE
Maria Higgins is an assistant teaching professor. Prior to joining Penn State, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
"Penn State has made history in materials science and engineering through groundbreaking research in ferroelectrics, glasses, carbon-based materials, among many others,” said Higgins. “With my position as teaching assistant professor, I hope I can train students in different laboratory techniques to produce the next generation of pioneers in the field."
Higgins’ research has several focuses. She investigates the photochemical properties of semiconductors and noble metals for radiation therapy and water decontamination that have been activated by ionizing radiation (UV light, x-rays, and gamma rays). Another research interest is the investigation of clean and environmentally friendly nanomaterial fabrication methods. Some examples include x-ray and gamma ray induced synthesis, deposition-precipitation. Also, at the macroscopic scale, she studies the microstructural evolution and mechanical properties of chromium coated zircaloy under proton irradiation, to enable its use as accident tolerant fuel cladding material in nuclear reactors.
She received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the National University of Colombia, and a Ph.D. in mechanical and nuclear engineering from VCU.