Jessica Rimsza, a first-year graduate student at UNT, recently was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to further her research in materials science and engineering.
Since arriving at UNT in January, Rimsza has been working with Jincheng Du, associate professor of material science and engineering, on a project aimed at developing improved materials for semiconductors. The project is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation. She says she plans to use her NSF stipend, which amounts to up to $90,000 during a five-year period, to pursue research on the study of glass-based functional materials using computer simulations.
Rimsza is now the second student from the College of Engineering to win the award and the eighth UNT student overall.
Rimsza says she has wanted to be an engineer for a while, but decided to pursue materials science because of the applied and multidisciplinary nature of the field.
"Materials science is applicable in a wide variety of fields, so there is a broader impact. Everything is made of materials," she says.
Earlier this year, Jennifer Williams a graduate student in electrical engineering became the first student from UNT's College of Engineering to win the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
The program is open to students pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive up to $30,000 to fund their research for three years out of a five-year period. They also receive international research and professional development opportunities.
Rimsza earned her bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Arizona in December 2011, after only three and a half years of study. While at UA, she worked in in the lab of Rene Corrales, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, developing liquids for semiconductor cleaning. Earlier this year Rimsza's research was published in the Journal of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry.
As Rimsza was finishing her undergraduate degree, Corrales suggested she consider working with Du at UNT for her graduate work. Corrales and Du previously worked together at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. Rimsza took a weekend trip from Houston, where she was interning for ExxonMobil's Materials and Corrosion Group, to visit the campus and decided it was the right fit for her.
"I think I made a really good choice. It's nice to have all of the new equipment and everyone at UNT is really friendly. It is really a graduate student friendly school," Rimsza says.
After her graduation in 2016, she plans to pursue her doctorate degree and eventually work as a researcher and professor in academia.
Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.Yancey@unt.edu.