Dogbone of the Week

Our lab recently started a fun new tradition at our biweekly group meetings. Each meeting, one member presents on a topic in material science or an adjacent field. Check out some of the recent ones below!


Presenter: Sam Present

February 14, 2022

Want to counterfeit your own meteorite? Sam’s got you covered. He hypothesized how we could recreate the microstructures of these alien space rocks in our own labs.

Gas Atomization

Presenter: Sharon Park

March 7, 2022

Sharon divulged some of the secrets of her master’s thesis which utilized gas atomization to create metallic powders for additive manufacturing.


Presenter: Catherine Barrie

April 11, 2022

Catherine showed us some of the science behind what makes gemstones so valuable. Find out more about stones like benitoite, painite, and even the Maryland state gem — the Patuxent River stone.

Garnet Micro-Tunnels

Presenter: Kevin Hemker

April 18, 2022

To follow up Catherine’s presentation on gemstones Professor Hemker lead us through a thrilling mystery — what could have caused these interesting micro-tunnels that were ruining these natural garnets? Take a look at this paper and tell us what you think!


Presenter: Daniel Magnuson

June 27, 2022

Ever wonder what keeps sea crabs from imploding under the high pressures of deep ocean waters? Me neither. Nevertheless, Daniel enlightened us on the unique microstructure and architecture of crab shells and their mechanical properties.

Mechanical Watches

Presenter: Ali Jalali

September 9, 2022

Want to know why mechanical watches are so expensive? Ali took us through all of the science and engineering that goes into creating a watch that doesn’t need to be wound and is still amazingly accurate.

Electromechanical Pinball Machines

Presenter: Maddy Selby

September 23, 2022

Maddy showed us all the ins and outs of what makes electromechanical pinball machines work (and so fun to play!). If you are curious about their history and their design, take a look at her presentation!


Presenter: Mike Patullo

October 7, 2022

Let’s cut right to the chase, this presentation is about swords. Mike dove into the details of one of the oldest materials science fields and what makes certain blade materials so special.

The Demon Core

Presenter: Kate Brizzolara

October 21, 2022

Kate shared her passion of World War II era history with her presentation on the Demon Core, an un-dropped atomic bomb. This presentation was a good reminder that safety should always come first in the lab!


Presenter: Arunima Banerjee

November 4, 2022

Do you know how a paper crane is relevant to the world of material science? For Arunima’s final presentation with our group she shared the creative ways origami has influenced scientific structures.


Presenter: Jacob Aljundi

November 18, 2022

Jacob decided to shift gears away from materials science and dove deep into the world of mechanics where he showed us how car transmissions work.

TiO2 in Everyday Life

Presenter: Sharon Park

December 9, 2022

Are you a fat-free milk drinker? If so, Sharon may have you re-thinking your choices. In our last group meeting before the holiday season, Sharon showed us how prevalent titania is in our everyday lives and gave us some advice on how to avoid feeding it to Santa.

Human Eye and Lenses

Presenter: Ali Jalali

February 9, 2023

Fun Fact: 90% of the Hemker group has corrective lenses! Ali gave an enlightening talk on how the human eye works and how vision is corrected via various types of lenses. Did you also know that our vision aberrations change how we see color? Check out his fun talk in the link below!

Lego Structures

Presenter: Maddy Selby

March 9, 2023

Inspired by a cover of Popular Mechanics, Maddy gave us insight into the history of everyones’ favorite toys and how they’re made.


Presenter: Sharon Park

April 20, 2023

Do you know what milk, smoke, and gelatin all have in common (don’t let the title of the presentation spoil it for you)? Sharon quizzed us on what we knew about colloids and showed just how many of them are all around us in everyday life!

Hemker Group Academic Family Tree

Presenter: Catherine Barrie

September 25, 2023

Inspired by Professor Bill Nix’s lecture at UMD in the spring, Catherine took us on a tour of the Hemker group academic family tree which includes many notable names. Take a look at the highlights using the link below.


Presenter: Kate Brizzolara

October 9, 2023

As a sequel to Catherine’s first dogbone on gemstones, Kate dove into the nitty-gritty details on diamonds. If you curious about this carbon allotrope, check out her talk below!

Materials Science of the Marvel Universe

Presenter: Maddy Selby

March 19, 2024

Who is, scientifically speaking, the best Spiderman? How can vibranium scratch vibranium? Where can you get your very own Iron Man suit? Find out in Maddy’s presentation about the materials science in the Marvel Universe!

Polymer Clay

Presenter: Sharon Park

April 2, 2024

Sharon shared about her favorite hobby, polymer clay sculpting. We learned about the the curing process, surprising applications, and whether or not you can eat from the same toaster oven you use for your clay. Check out Sharon’s dogbone below!