Grad Student Earns Scholarships

August 8, 2019 - Samueli School graduate student Somnath Mandal spent several years employed in the steel industry in India before deciding to begin work on a doctorate in materials science engineering. His education recently became a little more affordable, thanks to two scholarships.

The Refractories Institute (TRI) awarded Mandal $5,000, based on academic merit and his experience and interest in the field of refractories (heat resistant materials that provide the linings for high-temperature furnaces, reactors and other processing equipment.) “Your commitment to refractory R&D is exciting, and we look forward to realizing the advances you will make into the future,” TRI wrote to Mandal.

Mandal, whose adviser is MSE professor Martha Mecartney, also won one of only four prestigious 2019 ASTM International Graduate Scholarships. Formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, the group awarded Mandal a $10,000 scholarship based on his body of work and “stellar academic achievements.”

In his research, Mandal focuses on thermal conductivity in ceramics, specifically the roles played by the materials’ density, crystal structure and point defects. He also studies the corrosion mechanism of an eco-friendly material called spinel-periclase-zirconia/titania used for making steel.

“I am extremely happy and grateful to receive these two prestigious scholarships,” Mandal said. “Not only will the scholarships greatly support my Ph.D., the appreciation and honor will bring out the best research from me.”

Mecartney is proud of her student. “These awards are a testament to Somnath’s standing in the field and his potential contributions to the field of ceramic science and refractories. It is even more impressive how he has established himself so quickly after starting his Ph.D. program in MSE just a few years ago after completing his M.S. and working in the steel industry in India.”

- Anna Lynn Spitzer

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