By Allison McLellan
Dr. Seok-Woo Lee believes materials science and engineering is “magically fun.” He says, “Materials science and engineering makes me feel like I become an alchemist who tries to make gold out of other materials.”
The Pratt and Whitney Assistant Professor received both his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering and master’s of science in advanced materials engineering from Korea University in Seoul. He attained his Ph. D for materials science and engineering at Stanford University in California. Since coming to UConn in 2014 as an assistant professor, Lee has been impressed by students’ motivation at the university and has enjoyed meeting students, creating his class notes, and building a research team.
Referring to his most recent projects, he says, “At the nanoscale, my research project is ‘in-situ investigation on cryogenic nanomechanical properties of materials.’ At the bulk scale, it is ‘Design and synthesis of novel ternary bulk nanostructured alloys with enhanced strength, ductility, high temperature stability and radiation damage tolerance.’” His studies of varying deformation mechanisms help us to learn how we can decrease thickness on various parts in a mechanical system without compromising strength. Ultimately, this makes for a lightweight system that uses less fuel and energy.
Dr. Lee’s research has lent itself to 28 publications; one describes how to fabricate ductile bulk amorphous alloys, entitled “Crystallization-induced plasticity of Cu-Z bulk amorphous alloys, Acta Materialia 54 349-355 (2006)” and has been cited over 200 times. With such credible work, he has received many awards, most recently including the MRS outstanding talk of the symposium and the Kavli Nanoscience Institute fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, where he served in the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science.
Given these successes, Seok-Woo Lee’s research has undoubtedly impacted his role as a student teacher. As students are interested in the research areas currently drawing attention, his studies help to pinpoint challenges in the world of materials science. This shows students how they are needed and valuable, motivating them to study hard.
Not only that, but teaching has allowed Dr. Lee to build solid theoretical background in order to approach research problems more mathematically. Additionally, discussion with students has become a very valuable time where he is able to learn from their questions. Lee says, “The fact that we both learn together makes me happy.”
Not surprisingly, this passion has led to the researcher being a recipient of a “Teaching Excellence Letter” from the Provost and Vice Provost of academic affairs for his first year teaching. The letter commends Dr. Lee on his strides towards teaching innovation and fostering a love of learning in students, proven by his highly rated teaching evaluations.
Dr. Lee hopes to continue his work at UConn by exposing students to useful and exciting research areas, as well as using his magic touch to create the best classes possible.