First off, thank you to the wonderful people here at Scientopia who have invited me to do a guest-blogging stint.
Here on the internet, I go by Miss MSE. I'm a graduate student in materials science and engineering at a large research university I call GiantU.
I started blogging as a way to vent about some of the frustrations of graduate school, and because I felt that the non-life sciences needed more of a voice on the internet. I've also discovered that many other scientists haven't really heard of MSE until after they've graduated, and no one quite knows what materials science does.
So... what is MSE?
Materials science is the study of the relationships between processing, properties, structure, and performance. At some point, you will inevitably be shown "the tetrahedron", so let's get that out of the way now:
My current research is in the area of computationally characterizing structures, and analyzing the effect of structure variation on mechanical properties. While most academic materials science programs have their roots in metallurgy, materials science effectively covers all solid materials, from metals to ceramics to polymers to nanotubes. (Everything is spiffier at the nanoscale!)
For those who have been paying attention, you may have noticed "and engineering" attached to the discipline. MSE covers both fundamental understanding and cutting-edge innovation (i.e., science), as well as practical things, like what to build a bridge with, or how to increase the lifespan of engine components (i.e., engineering).
Between undergraduate research, summer internships, coursework, and graduate school, I've had a chance to dabble in a broad range of topics under the MSE umbrella. Hopefully, we will cover a few of these over my guest blogging term.