UA Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Wins National Teaching Award

Dec. 21, 2011

"This is what we mean when we talk about lifelong learning," said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering. "Erica is part of a core group of faculty members that excel at teaching, and we use them in our key first- and second-year undergraduate courses.

"If we can strengthen learning of the basics, then we can move forward to more advanced material with confidence -- even if that move is after graduation," Goldberg said.

The Bradley Stoughton Award is given to instructors 35 years of age or younger and is accompanied by a $3,000 stipend. Awardees are nominated by their university dean and department head, and a nomination typically includes evaluations and comments from 12 students and peer evaluations from five materials science and engineering faculty.

The award was given at the national materials science and technology meeting, one of the largest materials conferences in the U.S. at which societies gather to share research and highlight achievements.

Corral has been with the University of Arizona since August 2008 and is the first UA faculty member in materials science and engineering to receive an NSF Career award. Her current research on oxidation behavior of ultra-high-temperature ceramic composites has been funded for five years by NSF. Corral is also one of only three early career scientists and engineers in the U.S. to receive both an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Award.

Corral and her research team develop high-performance ceramics and composites for use in protecting equipment in extreme environments and other applications. Recently, her team's research collaboration with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., discovered new fracture resistance mechanisms in ceramic composites that incorporate graphene reinforcements. The research was published in the journal ACS Nano in 2011.

The Corral Laboratory, located in the Arizona Materials Laboratory, is one of the key centers for engineering high-temperature materials in Southern Arizona. Its technical capabilities include high-temperature oxidation testing, ceramic powder processing and metallographic preparation.

Corral's bachelor's degree in metallurgical and materials engineering is from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her doctoral degree in materials science is from Rice University. Before her current position at the UA materials science and engineering department, she was at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.