Skip to Main Content

MSEE Research Published in Journal of Applied Physics

Research from MSEE URA Research Area 4: Photon Material Interactions was recently published by the Journal of Applied Physics. The article, titled “Time Resolved X-ray Diffraction in Shock Compressed Systems”, can be found in print (Vol.129, Issue 4) and online

In the paper, the authors give a perspective on the topic of time resolved x-ray diffraction in shock compressed systems with the goal of highlighting results in this rapidly growing field and placing them in the context of what can be learned from these techniques. While the primary focus is on x-ray diffraction, other time resolved x-ray techniques are included as well.

“Time resolved x-ray diffraction is a key tool for characterizing the interaction of light with materials in shocked systems,” said LLNL physicist Harry Radousky, lead author of the paper.  “As the MSEE work moves forward, understanding the shock drivers and x-ray capabilities at the diverse set of facilities available will become an increasingly important planning feature both in RA4 as well as other connected research areas.”

Congratulations to MSEE URA PI Harry Radousky of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and his co-authors Michael Armstrong and Nir Goldman on this publication.

rows of material with callouts for specific measurements and results from xray diffraction experiments

FIG. 3. Ultrafast laser-driven shock compression experiments with x-ray diffraction (XRD) at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) only require a small-scale sample. Short timescale experiments enable small-scale samples, which can significantly enhance throughput. Reproduced with permission from Armstrong et al., “Observation of fundamental mechanisms in compression-induced phase transformations using ultrafast x-ray diffraction,” JOM (published online, 2021). Copyright 2021 The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.38 Image published in: H. B. Radousky; M. R. Armstrong; N. Goldman; Journal of Applied Physics  129, 040901 (2021) DOI: 10.1063/5.0034929 Copyright © 2021 Author(s)




Workforce Development: Storytelling in Science

There are more opportunities than ever for us to communicate our science: Talks, papers, and posters, of course, but also social media and blogs. Effective communication is particularly important for students, not only to make their work more influential but also as advertising to potential employers and collaborators. But how many times have you watched a scientist ramble through an interminable series of slides and wondered, “What is the point of all of this?”

Don’t be that speaker. Learn how to give a great talk (or write a great paper) by using the basic building blocks of storytelling — momentum, conflict, and resolution — to craft a compelling narrative for your work. Using techniques described by Randy Olson in his book Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story, we’ll learn to tell the difference between good and bad scientific storytelling and use that understanding to develop narrative structures that will capture an audience’s attention.

Todd Hufnagel has a long-standing interest in helping students learn to communicate their work through effective speaking and writing. He is Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Associate Director of the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance and HEMI Fellow.

Workforce Development: Technical Presentations – How to Grab (and Keep) Your Audience’s Attention

As researchers we are called upon regularly to present our work to a variety of audiences. Do you finish your presentations feeling like your audience learned more about you and your research? Or did you get the sense they were confused, bored and maybe even sleeping? This session will discuss ways in which we can all improve our presentations to a wide range of audiences. Group discussion will be interspersed with segments from a video by Julie Reiser in the Center for Leadership Education on the “Top 10 Mistakes Most Communicators Make”. Together we will identify practices that will (and maybe won’t) work for our own technical presentations, helping all of us to put our best foot forward.

Lori Graham-Brady, Associate Director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute and Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins, will be hosting this session. Professor Graham-Brady is a leading global researcher in the field of computational stochastic mechanics, multiscale modeling of materials with random microstructure, and the mechanics of failure under high-rate loading.



Workforce Development: Industry Career Panel

Are you a graduate student or post-doc interested in a career in industry? The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) and Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA) are hosting a career panel where you can learn about careers for PhDs in industry, including how to look for (and get!) a job in industry, how the demands and expectations for PhDs in industry are different from academia, and work-life balance. Each of our panelists is a recent PhD graduate or post-doc who has made the transition to industry and can offer advice for others looking to do the same. Most of the discussion will be devoted to Q&A, so come prepared to ask anything that’s on your mind!

MSEE Seminar: Prof. Steve Son, “Engineering Energetic Materials”

Join us for a seminar with Professor Steve Son, Alfred J. McAllister Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, titled “Engineering Energetic Materials.”

The seminar will begin at 3pm ET on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. It will be held via Microsoft Teams.

Abstract: Traditionally, energetic materials (propellants, explosives and pyrotechnics) have been mostly CHNO molecules synthesized chemically and mixed with polymers to form composites that are cast or pressed into final form. This continues to be an exciting area and many new materials are being developed and characterized. However, the focus of this presentation is an overview of our efforts at engineering new energetic materials rather than by chemical approaches. This includes fabricating piezoelectric energetic materials, developing scalable methods to introduce nanoscale features in full density micron-scale particles, blending pyrotechnic elements into propellants to achieve unique combustion, and assembling complex structures with additive manufacturing to enable function. Some fluoropolymer materials can be poled, and when combined with fuels, such as aluminum become energetic. Our recent work has explored how these multifunctional materials might be exploited to enable external control of burning rate and ignition. Mechanical activation or arrested ball milling is an example of engineering particles in traditional sizes, but with nanoscale features. We have also formed engineered crystalline materials by controlled encapsulation of particles and by subtractive methods (microscale machining and femtosecond laser machining). Likewise, we are exploring the interaction of fast burning pyrotechnics, or reactives, into propellant materials to tailor output. We term this “reactive wires”, in contrast to the inclusion of inert wires into propellants to enhanced the effective burning rate. Additive manufacturing (AM) of energetic materials represents an attractive avenue to tailoring the properties and performance of energetic systems by enabling precise control of the microstructure of additively manufactured components. Examples of recent results in each of these areas will be presented, and future directions will be discussed.

Speaker Bio: Steven F. Son is the Alfred J. McAllister Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and is affiliated with Purdue’s Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1994. Prof. Son’s research is in the field of combustion with an emphasis on energetic materials combustion. This include nanoscale energetic materials, microscale energetics (microenergetics), heterogeneous combustion, reactive materials, combustion synthesis, and explosives safety. Dr. Son has given hundreds of invited presentations at national and international scientific meetings and is an author of over three hundred scientific publications. Prof. Son was Associate Editor for AIAA’s Journal of Propulsion and Power and is the Editor in Chief of the JANNAF Journal of Propulsion and Energetics. Before his academic career, beginning in 2006, he was a Technical Staff Member, J. R. Oppenheimer Fellow, and Project Leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the High Explosives Sciences Group. Dr. Son has current support as PI or co-PI from ARO, ONR, AFOSR, DTRA, NASA, NSF, and DOE.

MSEE Seminar: Prof. Dana Dlott, “Watching Solids and Liquids Through the Ultrafast Shock Compression Microscope”

Join us for a seminar with Professor Dana Dlott, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Research at the University of Illinois, titled “Watching solids and liquids through the ultrafast shock compression microscope.”

The seminar will begin at 3pm ET on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. It will be held via Microsoft Teams.

Abstract: We have developed a microscope that looks into solids and liquids as they are subjected to controlled high velocity impacts from laser-launched flyer plates. This convenient tabletop microscope set up allows us to perform well-characterized controlled shock experiments on tiny samples hundreds of shots per day. The flyer plates move a few kilometers per second, creating intense mechanical and thermal effects that can trigger new kinds of chemistry. One of these impacts can create pressures of 200,000 atm and temperatures of 4000K while compressing matter to half its density. In this talk, I will describe the shock compression microscope and the peripheral high-speed optical diagnostics that measure pressure, temperature, density and composition in real time. I will mention applications ongoing in my lab, such as metal-organic frameworks as shock energy absorbers, proteins under shock compression and molecular photophysics in shock-compressed matter. Then I will discuss shock initiation and detonation of high explosives, including liquid explosives and plastic-bonded explosives. This shock compression microscope has many applications in chemistry, physics, materials science and biology and it lets us see right inside detonating high explosives with high time and space resolution.

Speaker Bio: Dana Dlott is the William H. and Janet G. Lycan Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Materials Research at the University of Illinois. He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University under the supervision of Prof. Michael Fayer, using ultrafast laser spectroscopy to study electronic energy transfer in molecular materials. After he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Illinois (in 1979) he began a research program to study vibrational relaxation in solids. About 30 years ago he began to study shock waves in solids. Dlott is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been recognized with the ACS award in Experimental Physical Chemistry and the Lippincott prize of the OSA for his work in ultrafast vibrational spectroscopy. He is a former Chair of the APS Topical Group on Shock Compression in Condensed Matter and the author of 325 scientific publications.

MSEE URA Job Opportunity: Executive Program Director

Executive Program Director for the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance

Baltimore, MD, 21218

Position Type

Click here to apply.

Position Description

The newly established Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA) at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) invites applications for an Executive Program Director.

The MSEE URA is an alliance of 18 research institutions led by JHU working in close collaboration with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The research is focused on understanding, predicting, and controlling the behavior of materials in extreme conditions caused by weapons of mass destruction.

The URA is expected to advance the types of materials that are capable of eliminating stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons while understanding and limiting the damage associated with nuclear blasts.

The MSEE URA resides within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) located on the Homewood campus of JHU.


  •  Program Management. Responsible for the overall program management of the MSEE URA which includes program planning, budgeting, contracting, subawarding, and reporting. Ensures the MSEE URA is compliant with federal and university policies. Works closely with the DTRA funding agency in the execution of the MSEE cooperative agreement.
  • Government and Corporate Affiliates Program (GCAP). Establishes and leads the GCAP and serves as the point of entry for the MSEE URA. Responsible for building partnerships with federal agencies, research organizations, and industry to build collaborations and assist in the transition of MSEE research.
  • Major Event Planning. Responsible for the overall planning and execution of the MSEE URA technical reviews and other major events. Works closely with the HEMI staff in the execution of these major events.
  • Strategic Planning and Communications. Works closely with the MSEE Director to establish a science advisory board to help guide the MSEE URA. Supports the MSEE

    URA Director and JHU Federal Affairs in engagements with the Federal and State legislative activities for the MSEE URA. Assists in the coordination of URA member institutions for legislative activities. Works closely with the HEMI communications office to promote the MSEE URA, its accomplishments, and to provide greater external visibility.

  • Business Development. Responsible for building and managing partnerships with DoD labs, DOE Labs, other government agencies, and corporations; engaging the broader Johns Hopkins community in its research programs, collaborative programs, and education; and enhancing affiliations with DTRA leadership. Pursues additional research, educational, and workforce development opportunities for the MSEE URA through writing proposals to federal agencies, industry, and other organizations.
  • Leadership. Assists the MSEE Director and Associate Director in leading the URA. Provides detailed guidance to the core and matrixed staff members to assist in the execution of their responsibilities. Coordinates MSEE activities with the HEMI leadership.


The objectives of this position are primarily noted in the responsibilities section of this announcement. Additional objectives include:

  • Expand the impact of the MSEE URA within DTRA and with the greater scientific community.
  • Increase the funding level of the MSEE URA through superior execution of the core funding and the addition of enhanced task funding from DTRA and other federal agencies.
  • Ensure the efficient and timely execution of all requirements within the MSEE URA cooperative agreement.
  • Develop a well-respected reputation for efficiency and responsiveness with DTRA and all partners within the MSEE URA.
  • Develop a vibrant Government and Corporate Affiliates Program.



  • Master’s Degree is required with a preference towards a degree in engineering or science disciplines. A doctorate in a discipline related to mechanical engineering, civil engineering, materials science, or physics, is preferred. Significant government laboratory, military, or corporate experience, at a high level, will also be considered in lieu of advanced degrees.


  • The candidate is expected to have significant, progressive leadership experience (10+ years) in project management, particularly in a matrix management setting. Experience working in a Department of Defense (DoD) or Department of Energy (DOE) program management office or research organization is desired.
  • Consulting, portfolio, and business development experience is desirable; experience with a research university is also desirable.
  • The successful candidate is also likely to be very comfortable operating in a high technology environment, taking maximum advantage of the available computing and networking tools.
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen and eligible for a DoD security clearance.

Licensure, Certification & Registration:

  • DoD certification in program management or Project Management Professional certification is desired.

Special Knowledge, Skills or Abilities / Competencies:

  • Professional-level knowledge and experience in business development, proposal development, engineering research, and knowledge of federal procurements and acquisitions strongly preferred; Demonstrated interpersonal skills for developing and maintaining strong internal and external relationships, and engaging with senior ranking officials in DoD, DOE, and Johns Hopkins University. Understanding and experience in relationship management, strategic planning, and building teams to service a rapidly expanding business/research portfolio.
  • Recognized and proven leadership skills, with the demonstrated ability to facilitate collaboration and team building to accomplish strategic organizational goals and objectives; Demonstrated competency for identifying and evaluating new and developing business opportunities; Ability to operate within a matrixed organization and to represent a professional management team; High level of organizational, critical thinking, analytic and interpersonal communication skills; Proven ability to manage a budget and analyze financial and performance data, perform budget forecasts, and render sound management/operational recommendations to the MSEE URA Director; Intellectual curiosity, executive presence, dynamic professional style, appreciation and understanding of the military culture, and the ability to inspire.
  • Strong communication skills are essential with experience briefing senior executives. Ability to write technical and non-technical articles.
  • A strong team player who works well with others who have less, more, and similar levels of experience or responsibility.

Application Instructions
For best consideration, applicants must apply at the following link: Applicants must upload an updated curriculum vitae, the names and contact information for 3 professional references, and a recent salary history. Review of the applications will begin on December 1, 2020 but we will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. The Johns Hopkins University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to recruiting, supporting, and fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty, staff, and students. All applicants who share this goal are encouraged to apply.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
The Johns Hopkins University is committed to equal opportunity for its faculty, staff, and students. To that end, the university does not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status or other legally protected characteristic. The university is committed to providing qualified individuals access to all academic and employment programs, benefits and activities on the basis of demonstrated ability, performance and merit without regard to personal factors that are irrelevant to the program involved.

MSEE URA Lead Nick Glumac Speaks to the New York Times About Explosion in Beirut

Nick Glumac, MSEE URA Lead for Research Area 3 (Chemistry in Extreme Environments) and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was quoted extensively in a New York Times article titled, “How a Massive Bomb Came Together in Beirut’s Port.” Glumac provides insight into the chemical reaction and effects of the blast.

Glumac’s research is in the area of spectroscopy of reacting flows with an emphasis on flows involving energetic materials, especially explosives. His lab at UIUC is one of the few institutions in the US cleared to test significant quantities of high explosives (up to 5 kg). Glumac has a long history of funded DoD and DOE research, including involvement in four current DTRA grants. He served as chairperson of the Central States Section of the Combustion Institute, as well as chair of the 2016 Gordon Research Conference on Energetic Materials. He has organized several technical meetings and workshops in the energetics field, including the DTRA Temperature Measurement Workshop in 2012.

Click here to view the article in its entirety.

MSEE URA Postdoctoral Fellow Opportunity – Wicks Lab

Extreme Environments Postdoctoral Fellow

The Wicks lab at Johns Hopkins seeks a postdoctoral researcher to perform simulation and experimental investigations into materials properties under extreme conditions. The postdoctoral fellow will join Prof. June Wicks’s group in projects in the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA), a new collaboration that brings together scientists from 18 research institutions and national laboratories.

The successful candidate will combine hydrodynamic simulations and data from laser-driven experiments to quantify and reduce uncertainties in materials properties and associated hydro simulations. They will be responsible for incorporating results from first-principles materials properties simulations in HYADES simulations of laser-driven experiments, running and processing simulations, and using state-of-the art tools for Bayesian inference and uncertainty quantification. Overall, the postdoctoral researcher will join the Wicks Lab’s goal to understand how macroscopic observables are controlled by the fundamental behavior of materials at extreme conditions. They will develop skills in the lab’s core expertise on high pressure experiments, and will work on modeling and uncertainty quantification with researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Experience in physics simulations, radiation-hydrodynamics or materials properties calculations is preferred, in addition to advanced knowledge of statistical inference and/or uncertainty quantification.

We are looking for individuals that demonstrate an understanding of working in partnership with team peers, who engage, advocate, and contribute to building an inclusive culture, and provide expertise to solve challenging problems.

To apply, please submit a 1-2 page statement of research interests, a CV, and contact information for 3 references to and Review of applications will begin on September 15, 2020.

The Johns Hopkins University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from women and members of underrepresented groups.