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PhD Spotlight: Jessica Faust, PhD’20 – Mechanical Engineering

Advised by Associate Professor Randall Erb, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Early in her academic journey as a community college student, Jessica Faust was selected for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in summer of 2010, working as a research assistant in mechanical design at Northeastern’s College of Engineering Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing. She worked on several projects in the George J. Kostas Nanoscale Technology and Manufacturing Research Center clean room. She also participated as an REU the following summer at Northeastern as a research assistant in biomedical optics in the Heterogeneous Materials Multi-scale Mechanics Laboratory in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) department. This time at Northeastern deepened her love for research and resulted in a peer-reviewed publication.

In 2011, Faust transferred from her community college to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to continue her undergraduate education, and while there, returned to work as a research assistant at Northeastern on a collaborative project with the Macromolecular Innovations in Nano-materials Utilizing Systems Laboratory (MINUS Lab) and the Directed Assembly of Particles and Suspensions Laboratory (DAPS Lab), from 2014-2016. Within these two years, Faust performed a significant amount of research that led her mentors, Professor Minus and Associate Professor Erb, to write an NSF proposal (that was funded) and encouraged Faust to pursue her PhD. Upon graduation from WPI in 2016, Faust applied for, based on her research at Northeastern, and ultimately received, a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and began pursuing her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Northeastern in the DAPS Lab.

Her doctoral research focused on fundamental breakthroughs in interphase assembly within mechanical and thermal composite materials, one of the most important and complicated topics of study in composite materials such as designing materials for bone graft applications. She also worked at the frontier of RF and telecommunications materials. Her recent dissertation examined three different composite systems, two of which are focused on improving the strength of mechanical properties and the third on thermal properties. Her thermal composite study aims to create an electrical insulating thermally conductive composite that has very high thermal conductivity but will not short circuit the circuit board.

Her PhD research resulted in a patent in 2019, titled, “Methods for Creating Thermally Conductive Boron Nitride Films and Coatings on Composite Surfaces,” as well as more than 12 conference presentations. In 2020, Faust was recognized for her exceptional ability to conduct high-level research and make contributions to the scholarly literature in her field with Northeastern’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Research. Other notable achievements include being named to Northeastern’s Huntington 100, and receiving the Ferretti Academic Excellence Award (2018), the John and Katharine Cipolla Early Student Career Award (2019), and the Akira Yamamura Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department Award for Research (2020).

Faust also engaged in STEM outreach. She mentored students in Northeastern’s Young Scholars Program, including international students through the Science Without Borders program. In total, Faust has mentored 11 students—high school and undergrads—while at Northeastern.

She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Northeastern in the MIE department.

Related Faculty: Randall Erb

Related Departments:Mechanical & Industrial Engineering