Mckittrick group

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering Program

About Us

Professor Joanna McKittrick

Joanna McKittrick joined UC San Diego after receiving her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT.  Her research is concerned with (1) synthesis, characterization and analysis of materials with superior properties through novel processing techniques and (2) the structure-properties-function of biological structural materials.

Her research interests include light-emitting materials (phosphors) for applications in display devices and for solid state lighting, thin oxide films for optical, ferroelectric, magnetic and structural and biocompatible applications, non-equilibrium processing (combustion synthesis and rapid solidification), nanomaterials in biology, biomimetic structures and investigations into the mechanical properties of natural materials such as bone, teeth and antler (collagen and hydroxyapatite), horn (keratin), feathers (keratin), mollusk shells (calcium carbonate) and arthropod exoskeletons (chitin).

Postdoctoral Researchers:

Wen Yang

Wen completed her Ph.D. in Material Physics and        Chemistry at Northeastern University in China in 2010. She received her M.S. Degree from Northeastern University in China in 2008. She currently works with Professor Joanna Mckittrick and Professor Marc A. Meyers on the structures and mechanical properties of biological materials, such as African and American porcupine quills and fish scales to understand the relationship between the structure and mechanical behavior of biological materials in order to give a guide to the design of engineering materials.

Ekaterina Evdokimenko (Novitskaya)

Ekaterina has received her Masters degree in Solid State Physics from the Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia and her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at 2012 from UCSD. Her current research project is on the mechanical and structural properties of biological materials, specifically bones.

Visiting Scholar:

Dr. Gustavo A. Hirata

Gustavo A. Hirata is a research project scientist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He received his B.S. in physics at University of Baja California, and his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics of materials at CICESE Institution in Ensenada, B.C. Mexico. He has authored and co-authored over 90 scientific papers. Achievements include a patent for improved phosphor performance through laser-based processing. He is a member of the American Ceramic Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His primary research interest include luminescent thin films through laser ablation, RF sputtering and MOCVD deposition techniques.

Graduate Students:

Sara G. Bodde

Sara G. Bodde completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at UCSD in 2002.  She is currently studying hierarchical and cellular solid structure of avian appendages including beak, feather, and claw/talon.

Jinkyu Han

Undergraduate degree from Korea University. He has received his Maters degree from Korea University and Stanford University. His current research project is on the synthesis and luminescence properties of nano oxide phosphors excited at near ultraviolet and
nanophosphors and inert shell particle.

Michael Porter

Michael M Porter received a B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech in 2007 and an M.S. in Biological Engineering from the University of Hawaii in 2010. His research at UCSD focuses the development of bioinspired materials and devices, specializing in magnetic field aligned freeze casting inspired by the narwhal and flexible robotics inspired by the seahorse.

Jae Ik Choi

Jae Ik completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the Pusan National University in Korea. He have received Master's degree from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Chemistry) and Georgia Institute of Technology (Materials Science and Engineering). His current research project is on  red phosphors for white light emitting diodes (LEDs) and Electrophoretic deposition (EPD) of phosphors.

Undergraduate Students:

Zherrina Manilay

An undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Zherrina has a special interest in the structure of biological materials. She is researching the structure and mechanical  properties of different biological materials such as bone, abalone shell, and porcupine quills.

Vanessa Nguen

Vanessa is a fourth year undergraduate student studying for her Bachelor's degree in Structural Engineering. She is interested in incorporating the strength benefits of biological materials into structural, industrial elements to improve cost, weight, and performance efficiency. She is currently researching the structural and mechanical properties of pipefish.

Matthew Wen

Matthew is an undergraduate student studying Mechanical Engineering. With a special interest in biomimetics and structural analysis, his current research involves studying fabricated porous composite scaffolds intended for bone implants.

Seung-Hyo Lee

Seung-Hyo Lee is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He is researching on methods to create luminescent materials. His primary focus is constructing and utilizing a spray pyrolysis system that will ultimately result in spherical nanoparticles.

Russ Imperio

Russ is a third year undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student, who originally began his studies in music production and audio engineering. He also has previous research experience in a geotechnical/


Maintained by: Ekaterina Evdokimenko

Last Updated April 3, 2013

Left to Right: Luca Tombolato, Jonathan Tao, Ekaterina Evdokimenko, Sara Bodde, Steven Shimizu, Prof. Joanna McKittrick, Po-Yu Chen