Cameron Lerch, a senior in physics at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been awarded a place in the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP).

Lerch plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science (MEMS) at Yale University and will work with Dr. Corey O’Hern, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, applied physics and physics. The MEMS program provides a flexible class schedule, and Lerch is excited to continue pursuing physics-based classes and research. 

“The most important aspect of a graduate degree is the professor, or group of professors that advise your research,” says Lerch. “I will work with Dr. Corey O’Hern, who has a Ph.D. in physics and works jointly with many other departments. I will be able to continue my love for physics while completing other courses relevant to my research.”

Lerch’s research is in bulk metallic glasses, which make up a group of materials similar to steels, ceramics and plastics. High yield strength and fracture toughness, in addition to formability, make bulk metallic glasses desirable for a variety of engineering and manufacturing purposes. Common uses for bulk metallic glasses include golf club heads and surgical scalpel blades, but they are also used in a variety of consumer electronics. 

“I’d like to extend my thanks to all of the incredible faculty in the physics department here at S&T,” says Lerch. “I am grateful for the family-like atmosphere in the department and knowing that I could approach any faculty member with questions. I’d also like to thank Dr. Thomas Vojta for his patience, enthusiasm, immense knowledge, and for being a role model as a researcher, educator and mentor.”

Each year, the program receives more than 12,000 applications and awards about 2,000 fellowships. The award provides students with three years of funding to conduct their research at any accredited U.S. institution. NSF fellows are expected to become experts in their field with the ability to contribute to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering.