Jessika Rojas, Ph.D., assistant professor in VCU’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, received the 2021 Frontiers of Materials Award from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). She is a nuclear engineering expert specializing in nuclear materials, nanomaterials and radiation-induced processes that make materials more functional and versatile.
Rojas will receive the award at the TMS Annual Meeting and Exhibition, which will be held virtually in March 2021.
This competitive award is given to top-performing, early-career professionals. As part of the award, the honoree organizes a symposium on an emerging technical topic and delivers a keynote lecture.
Rojas’ symposium will present research suggesting that ionizing radiation and radiation processing may be powerful tools to make materials more robust, or to modify them for different applications.
One example, Rojas said, is titanium dioxide, commonly found in sunscreen. When irradiated, titanium oxide creates a superior purification agent to decompose the pollutant methylene blue (used to dye blue jeans) from water supplies.
Rojas said she is looking forward to highlighting new frontiers for nuclear engineering in materials science at her TMS symposium.
“I am very honored to receive this award, and to have this opportunity to showcase this research, which I truly believe in,” she said. “It will be great to show what we can do with radiation, and help clear up some common misconceptions in the field. If you know how to handle radiation and apply it correctly, you can use it to modify material properties for groundbreaking applications including environmental, health care and smart-materials uses.”