Claire Weiss Wins SMART Scholarship

Claire Weiss, a doctoral student in Materials Science & Engineering, has won a coveted scholarship under the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program. Claire was one of approximately 200 students to capture the competitive award, from among 1,500 applicants. She is advised by Dr. Pamir Alpay, an associate professor in the Chemical, Materials & Biomolecular Engineering Department.

photoUnder the SMART scholarship, Claire will receive sponsorship from the U.S. Army, which will also provide her summer research opportunities and mentoring throughout the course of her degree program.

On receiving news of the award, Claire said “I’m really excited, because the SMART scholarship gives me the opportunity to do research at a wonderful facility — the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) — and also to work in a great job with ARL after I graduate.”

Managed by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) on behalf of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the SMART program is administered jointly by the American Society for Engineering Education and NPS. It was created as a means to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working in Department of Defense laboratories.

Claire is a member of the Functional Materials Group, and her research focuses on the deposition, characterization, and electrical testing of complex oxide thin films for applications in tunable devices, such as phase shifter arrays for electrically steerable antennas. Claire is particularly interested in thin films based on barium strontium titanate (Ba{x}Sr{1-x}TiO{3}) or BST. BST is considered a top candidate for use in tunable microwave devices because of its highly non-linear dielectric response to applied electric field. Her current research is exploring many methods to improve the dielectric properties of BST thin films, such as using compositional grading to minimize the temperature dependence and doping to lower the loss.

Tunable microwave devices are used in a broad range of commercial and military applications, from communications devices, therapeutic medicine and heating to GPS navigation systems, automobiles and satellite-based systems. Claire’s research is currently being funded by the U.S. Army Research Office and a Phase II SBIR sub-contract from SMI, Inc.