Grad Member Spotlight: Denise Freeman

8 February 2015



Denise Freeman

PhD Student, Materials Science and Engineering, Expected graduation 2019

Michigan Tech


Denise has worked alongside Ericka Sheeran to start-up GradSWE at Michigan Tech, and has served as the co-director for the committee. They have held webinar viewings, study groups, and outreach events on campus. In the future, they are looking forward to starting writing groups and sponsoring professional development workshops. Congratulations, Denise, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
someday…hopefully by 2019
Give a brief explanation of your research.

Aircraft construction increasingly consists of materials constructed with epoxy resins. Despite the many advantageous properties of these resins, the exposure of aircraft to extreme temperature and pressure conditions over time leads to degradation and hence compromised performance. The thermo-physical and mechanical properties of these resins are currently predicted with Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations; however, the simulations are only as accurate as the inter-atomic potential, or guidelines, employed. My focus is on the parameterization of the Reax Force Field (ReaxFF) potential through the use of ab initio Density Functional Theory (DFT) simulations.


What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

I aspire to become a faculty member at a mid-size university, where I can both teach and continue research-related in the area of computational materials science. I am very passionate about advancing women in STEM, and I will continue to serve as a role model and mentor for other women considering STEM fields.


What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

In the summer, I enjoy gardening and cooking with the veggies and herbs from my backyard/porch gardens. In addition, I enjoy running (I’ve run 4 half marathons) and learning how to cross country ski.


What’s a fun fact about you?

I am sometimes over ambitious in the kitchen, and I have actually cooked squid before. I made a squid stew once…it was actually pretty good. (This was to commemorate learning the acronym “SQUID” in my graduate level Magnetism class…superconducting quantum interference device).


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