Grad Member Spotlight – Stephanie Moffitt

4 April 2016

SteStephanieMoffittphanie Moffitt


PhD Student, Materials Science and Engineering, expected graduation spring 2017

Northwestern University


Stephanie has been an active SWE member at Northwestern since 2012. She served on the planning committee for NU SWE’s biggest outreach event, Career Day for Girls, in 2013 and 2014. Starting in the fall of 2014, she began serving on NU SWE’s executive board as the first graduate student liaison (at least in recent memory). At this time, Stephanie also began to lead and further develop GradSWE at Northwestern. This has included obtaining a university grant, increasing membership, and developing programs.  This past fall, Stephanie was excited to attend her first SWE conference, WE15. At the conference she co-presented the talk “Preparing Powerful Application Essays”.

Stephanie currently holds a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In 2014 she was selected to attend the International Center for Materials Research Summer Mini-School and Workshop on Advances in Oxide Materials at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This winter Stephanie was invited as a round table speaker to SWE in the City, NU SWE’s first daylong professional development event in downtown Chicago.

Congratulations, Stephanie, on all that you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!


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

I am a 4th year Materials Science and Engineering PhD student. I expect to graduate in spring of 2017.


Give a brief explanation of your research.

The unique combination of optical transparency and electrical conductivity is required by many applications. Large-area flexible displays are the current driver of the field of transparent conducting oxides. In my research I study the distinct property changes that evolve in transparent conducting oxides when they are deposited under conditions compatible with flexible plastic. Specifically I am interested in how the arrangement and composition of atoms informs their performance. Oxides compatible with plastic present a significant challenge to study because they lack long-range order. This precludes the use X-ray diffraction and computer simulations that rely on periodic boundary conditions. To overcome this challenge I use element-specific local structure X-ray measurements combined with electrical measurements to gain an understanding of how these materials function on a fundamental level.


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

After completing my PhD, I hope continue developing my skills as an independent researcher through a post-doctoral position at a national laboratory. This position will prime me to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a tenured professor at an R1 research institution. I aspire to act as a role model and mentor to women pursuing careers in science and engineering. As a professor I will interact with students at the undergraduate and graduate level; I will have the status to inspire even more students.


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

I’ve been a dancer all my life. As a graduate student I still find time to take class at Foster Dance, a local studio. Next year I plan to enter the “Dance Your PhD” contest. I also really enjoy playing intramural flag football on my department’s team. This year we won the Corec division!


What’s a fun fact about you?   

I grew up flying airplanes. My grandfather help found a recreational airport in California. I spent much of my time growing up at that airport helping my dad fix small airplanes and flying around the western United States.



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