Careers

Fellowship Experiences

Adam Backer

Adam Backer

2017 Truman Fellow

Adam Backer received his Ph.D. in computational and mathematical engineering at Stanford University. He earned his B.S. in engineering and physics from Brown University and M.Phil. in engineering from Cambridge University. Adam had received important recognition during his academic career including:  a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG), a Simons Math +X Graduate Fellowship, and a Craig Fellowship for graduate study at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Adam’s research seeks to develop cutting-edge imaging systems for application to the life and physical sciences. How can traditional methods, such as optical microscopy, be redesigned and re-imagined to better leverage the formidable computational capabilities and image analysis algorithms available to today’s scientists and engineers? During Adam’s Truman Fellowship, he is constructing a hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (HyFli) microscope capable of rapidly imaging single cells with sub-wavelength resolution. This novel imaging technique will be used for rapid detection of infectious diseases, as well as high-throughput screening of photosynthetic organisms for biofuels production. In addition, Adam is collaborating with researchers at University of New Mexico and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam on projects involving unconventional optics for image acquisition and display, and novel single-molecule microscopy techniques respectively. Adam’s research touches on several important areas for Sandia and aligns with the Detection at the Limit and Engineering the Abiotic, Biotic Living Systems Research Challenges. Sandia’s work toward understanding biological responses to pathogens and Adam’s proposed technology will result in a new, mission-relevant methods capable of advancing Sandia’s landmark hyperspectral imaging technology.

Since beginning his Fellowship, Adam has been highly impressed with the resources, opportunities and intellectual challenges available to him at Sandia National Labs. According to Adam: “Never before in my life have I known so many different experts in so many different fields! Every day at Sandia is truly an opportunity to learn about something completely new.” Adam joined the Bioenergy and Defense Technology department (8631) in November 2016, with Jim Carney as his manager and Jerilyn Timlin as his mentor.”

Nick Burtch

Nick Burtch

2017 Truman Fellow

Nicholas (Nick) Burtch received his B.S.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and Ph.D./M.S. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech. He was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards during his doctoral studies, including the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Distinguished Young Scholar Seminar Award (UW), Milliken & Co. Graduate Research Award, and Eastman Chemical Company Summer Graduate Fellowship. Nick made important contributions to understanding metal-organic framework adsorption and stability properties during his graduate studies and was first author on numerous high impact journal articles, including a Chemical Reviews article that is among the top 1% most cited articles for its field and publication year.

As a Truman Fellow, Nick is engineering novel negative and zero thermal expansion materials to be used as components in advanced manufacturing technologies. This work involves the development of structure-property relationships needed to rationally design metal-organic frameworks and zeolites with pre-designed thermal expansion behaviors. Material synthesis and characterization efforts are performed using Sandia’s substantial experimental capabilities, combined with synchrotron facilities for the high-resolution characterization of top candidate materials.  Nick is also skilled at materials modeling and structure prediction, and will utilize vast material databases to guide his experimental efforts and facilitate structure-property understanding.  His work is complementary to the portfolio of metal-organic framework (MOF) work currently ongoing at SNL/NM and CA. His Sandia mentor is David Robinson and his manager Andy Vance, Energy Nanomaterials, 8341.  Nick began his Fellowship in August 2016.

“Tackling the scientific challenges of my project would hardly be possible without the tremendous support of the Truman Fellowship. I am constantly interacting with Sandia’s vast network of technical experts as new challenges arise in my project, and this highly collaborative environment allows me to tackle even the most difficult problems in my work. This cooperative environment, combined with Sandia’s extensive experimental and computational capabilities, have made this a truly exciting setting to lead my project work.”

Matt Hudspeth

Hudspeth

2017 Truman Fellow

Matt Hudspeth earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering, M.S. in materials science, and Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University.  While pursuing his graduate studies at Purdue, Matt focused his experimental research efforts on the dynamic behavior of materials, most notably, projectile impact into body armor systems.  His work led to a better understanding of constituent material failure within soft-armor systems, providing improved insight for system design.  Matt successfully led a team in winning the National Institute of Justice Body Armor Challenge and published over 20 journal articles regarding dynamic material failure, ultimately aiding in improved future body armor for both domestic and military applications.  As an additional project, Matt heavily utilized the Advanced Photon Source of Argonne National Laboratory, implementing high-energy X-rays to analyze dynamic material deformation and failure.  Matt received several awards during his graduate studies including a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) and the Gary Cloud Scholarship.

For his Truman Fellowship project, Matt is pursuing research in damage and failure of materials subjected to extreme dynamic loading in efforts to better inform both high-strain-rate deformation and hydrodynamic material models.  Such efforts will allow for increased understanding in material system performance, for which he is specifically interested in quantifying deformation and failure of both metallic and ceramic systems when placed within abnormal loading-rate regimes, thereby allowing for increased safety in critical system applications.  Matt began his Fellowship in the Experimental Environment Simulation Department (1528).  His mentor is Bo Song and his manager is Darrick Jones.

“The Truman Fellowship has given me the opportunity to work with world-renowned scientists using powerful techniques only available at National laboratory facilities.  Even more importantly, the research freedom given by the Fellowship experience allows for me to quickly network and collaborate both internally and externally from Sandia.  I truly am excited to be part of this world-class facility and such a generous program.”