Graduate Research AssistantPost-Doctoral Researcher

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Graduate Research Assistant Positions



 GRA Position


PI:  Nathan Spulak (

Start Date:  Spring 2023, Summer 2023, or Fall 2023

General Topic:  Experimental solid mechanics, with an emphasis on characterizing material stress-strain and fracture behavior under extreme conditions.

Description:  Many engineered devices are subjected to extreme loading, and it is critically necessary to understand how materials deform and fracture under these complex conditions. For example, military devices such as armor, projectiles, weapons platforms and explosive ordnance containment structures are subjected to high-speed blasts and shock waves, elevated temperatures, and complicated impact loading. Other examples where extreme loading is present include automotive and aerospace vehicle crashes, manufacturing forming processes, and biomedical implants. In addition novel classes of materials such as fiber-reinforced composites, ceramic matrix composites, and additively manufactured metals must have their behavior experimentally characterized in order to effectively design devices using such materials.

Student Duties: 

  • Perform experiments to characterize the stress-strain and fracture behavior of materials under extreme conditions, such as at elevated temperatures, high strain rates, or complex applied stress states
  • Use experimental techniques such as Digital Image Correlation (DIC) and elastic wave analysis to analyze material behavior
  • Use experimental data to construct material models to be used with Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Utilize FEA to more fully characterize the material response and to design new experimental techniques
  • Develop new experimental techniques to more efficiently characterize the material response, to be used in conjunction with advanced analytical methods such as the Virtual Fields Method (VFM)



Post-doctoral Researcher Openings



 Post-doctoral Researcher


PI:  Gabe Xu (

Start Date:  January 2023

Description:  A post-doctoral researcher is sought to conduct experimental research on laser produced plasmas, their interaction with magnetic fields and plasma jets to study aspects of the plasma-jet driven magneto-inertial fusion (PJMIF) concept. The position is funded by a DOE EPSCoR grant for 3 years. The researcher will also collaborate with Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) scientists on the plasma liner experiment (PLX).


  • A PhD or equivalent degree in physics, engineering, or related field is required.
  • Demonstrated experience in experiment plasma research, especially lasers, optical diagnostics, vacuum systems, or pulsed power are highly desired.

Duties:  The researcher will have primary responsibility for the experimental portion of the project. This includes designing, setting up, and running experiments using a Nd:YAG laser to generate a plasma on a solid target in the vacuum chamber inside a pulsed magnetic field to create a magnetized plasma target. A high energy plasma jet created by a coaxial plasma gun will then discharge and collide with the magnetized target. The researcher will apply diagnostics to study the plasma behavior to understand the jet-target interaction. There is a computational component being carried out by a collaborator which the researcher will need to interact with and contribute to as needed. In addition to project duties, the researcher will be expected to work as part of a multidisciplinary team and prepare reports, presentations for conferences, and peer-reviewed journal papers. The researcher will also assist with proposal writing and student mentoring in relevant topics. Occasional travel (few weeks/year) to LANL will be required as part of the project to work with collaborators.

Applications from candidate who are nearing the completion of a relevant Ph.D. degree will be considered. Applications from female, minority, and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged.

Please reach out to the listed PI with inquiries.




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