Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Navy Researcher Elissa Bumiller Tackles Corrosion 'In the Fleet'

Elissa Bumiller awarded SMART scholarship and grants from Navy and DoD Corrosion Office

CorrDefense by Cynthia Greenwood

Thanks to three DoD agencies, a talented Navy engineer is realizing the dream of anyone working in government — to take a hiatus from work and return to school full-time.

In July 2007, DoD awarded Elissa Bumiller the SMART scholarship. (SMART, a Defense Scholarship for Service program, stands for "Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation.") Further, after receiving grants from the Navy and DoD Corrosion Office, Bumiller became free to ramp up her graduate studies, attend classes full-time, and make headway on her dissertation. Today she is pursuing a doctorate in materials science and engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA).
Elissa Bumiller


As a mechanical engineer, Bumiller has performed corrosion research and focused on the corrosion characterization of naval alloys at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division, for five years.

"At Carderock, we offer the chance for our 'stars' to take extended term training," explained Rich Hays, manager of the facility's Corrosion Research and Engineering Branch. "We pay their full salary and send them on a full university scholarship."

Throughout her tenure at NSWC's corrosion lab, Bumiller has conducted corrosion testing on aluminum alloys in different environments. She has also tested novel aluminum anode materials, while contributing to other coatings and cathodic protection projects. At the master's-level, her research centered on the contamination of electronic assemblies, particularly as regards corrosion.

Bumiller is conducting doctoral research under Robert Kelly, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UVA, a NACE International fellow, and a recognized expert in localized corrosion. Specifically, Bumiller is studying the insidious problem of sensitization in 5XXX series aluminum alloys. "This is a problem that is difficult to detect when the alloy is in service," Bumiller explained. "With Dr. Kelly, we are developing an electrochemical test for detection of sensitization in aluminum similar to the electrochemical potentiokinetic reactivation test for stainless steels."

As a member of NACE, Bumiller also serves as vice chairperson of the Marine Corrosion strategic technology group. Bumiller completed UVA's one-year residency requirement from August 2007 through May 2008. She is now preparing for her PhD qualifying exams in August and her oral comprehensives in September.

"I'm extremely excited to be working on this study," Bumiller said. "I feel the research I'm doing will help the naval fleet in huge ways." Bumiller adds that she is indebted to the SMART program, administered by ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education), the DoD Corrosion Office, and the Navy.

"The support of these three agencies has enabled me to continue my education and conduct research on real issues encountered by the fleet," Bumiller said. "I realize what a truly outstanding opportunity I have been provided and feel very honored to be a part of such a great organization."

DoD Investment in Training Provides Immeasurable Impact

"Investing in young people who will take the place of older Navy professionals is important," said Hays. "Our goal is to keep Elissa around for many years to come and encourage her to stay in the government. If we can make one person inside government smarter and more knowledgeable about corrosion, we can create a much bigger impact on government and industry, over the long term, than we would by developing a new paint system."

Hays added: "Having a government expert like Elissa available to help the design and maintenance community specify a solution to a materials problem, or detect a potential problem, is extremely important. The positive impact she'll have is immeasurable but huge. In the long-term it will undoubtedly be significantly larger than any ROI (return on investment) from other corrosion projects."

Hays also commended the DoD Corrosion Office community of experts — known as the Corrosion Prevention and Control Integrated Product Team — and their willingness to support candidates like Bumiller and other next-generation corrosion researchers.

"We're hoping that leaders of the DoD Corrosion Office will continue to provide this type of support," Hays added. "It's a great retention tool for, and a wise investment by government."

Santhana Eswaramoorthy selected 2008 recipient of the Gwathmey Memorial Award


Santhana Eswaramoorthy won this years Gwathmey Memorial Award for his work in surface science, the results of which were published in the journal Science.

The title was:
"In Situ Determination of the Nanoscale Chemistry and
Behavior of Solid-Liquid Systems" by Santhana K. Eswaramoorthy, James M. Howe, Govindarajan Muralidharan.

This is the highest recognition given to a graduate student for demonstrated achievement through a dissertation or literature paper, as well as for strong career potential in fundamental science.The award carries a $5,000 prize.

Material Scientist Leland Melvin selected for Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-129 Mission

Congrats to Leland Melvin, a U.Va. alum (MSE ‘91), who was just named to the NASA Crew for Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-129 Mission — a space shuttle launch targeted for October 2009. 

Melvin flew as a mission specialist on the STS-122 mission in 2008. He was born in Lynchburg, Va. Melvin earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia. He was selected as an astronaut in 1998.

For more on Melvin, here’s a link to his official NASA bio. Fun fact: Melvin was drafted in the 11th round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions in 1986.

Derek Thomas Places First at the 2008 ICPEPA Conference.



Derek Thomas (Aero ’08) received the Outstanding Poster Award at the International Conference on Photo-Excited Processes and Applications (ICPEPA 2008) in Sapporo, Japan last week. 

Derek was the only undergraduate student competing for the award with more than 20 graduate students from many countries.Conducting research under Leo Zhilgelei's Computational Materials Group, he was completing research started as an undergraduate while here at the University of Virginia. Derek will return to Japan this week as one of only a handful of students to be awarded a scholarship to study with the University of Tokyo’s Mechanical, Electrical and Engineering Materials International Graduate Program.

Jen Warner wins "Best in Class"


Jen Warner won best in class for her poster presented at the 7th International Conference on Fatigue Damage in Materials held last week in Hyannis, MA. As judged based on conferee voting, her poster was a runner up for best of conference, with 20 entries in her class and 60 posters presented overall.