Grad member spotlight: Ashley Bucsek

21 May 2015

Ashley Bucsek

PhD student, Expected graduation Spring 2018

Mechanical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Ashley has been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for Mechanical Engineering. More information here:


What is your research?

For my thesis project, I’m developing a unique data analysis technique for X-ray diffraction experiments.  Diffraction is an amazing investigative tool.  With it, one can observe deformation evolution on the granular level, through the entire thickness of a sample, in-situ, and without destroying the sample.  Often, advanced materials owe their extraordinary properties to multiple types of deformation competing with each other.  My technique will provide quantitative information about different mechanisms (e.g., phase transformation, twinning, and plasticity) that are occurring simultaneously within each crystal.  I then plan to use this technique to study the relationship between different deformation mechanisms and intergranular constraints in advanced materials.


What do you plan to do after graduation?

Despite the power of X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques, one of the hurdles to its widespread use is the complex data analysis.  When I complete my thesis, I will publish open-source software in the hopes that it will allow for scientific investigations without necessarily understanding the nuances of high-energy diffraction microscopy (HEDM).  Something similar happened with electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), a tool that is now quite common.  After I graduate, I hope to work at one of our national laboratories that have neutron or synchrotron X-ray sources to keep studying advanced materials and pushing the capabilities of diffraction.


What are some of your hobbies?

I play for the women’s all-star team of Denver Roller Derby.  We’re ranked among the top 10 teams in the world, and we travel all over the country to compete with other top-tier teams.  We practice 3-4 times a week in addition to cross-training, so research and roller derby are about all that I have time for.


What’s a fun fact about you?

I rescued two puppies when they were each 8 weeks old, so now I have two very cute, very mischievous dogs under the age of one!

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