Thierry Tsafack, who earned his Ph.D. in materials science and nanoengineering from Rice University in 2016, has been awarded an internationally competitive post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Benét Laboratories at the U.S. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in Watervliet, N.Y., and administered by the NRC Research Associateship Programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The Benét Laboratories is the Army’s design center for large-caliber cannons, mortars, tank guns and artillery cannon for howitzers. It provides tank-turret support for ABRAMS and crew cooling for ABRAMS, Bradley and light-armored combat vehicles.
Tsafack’s research proposal to the Army was entitled: “How to turn polymer composites into bioinspired materials.”
“It’s a dichotomy in nature that strong materials tend to be brittle and heavy, and that weak materials tend to be ductile and light. I am interested in developing materials that are, for instance, as light and stretchable as rubber but as strong as metals or ceramics,” Tsafack said.
A native of Cameroon, Tsafack earned his first Ph.D., in electronics, computer science, and telecommunications, from the University of Bologna in 2010. In 2009-10, he was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and in 2010-11 he worked as an optical scientist for Texas Industrial Optics Inc. in Houston.
Tsafack’s doctoral adviser at Rice was Boris K. Yakobson, the Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in Engineering and professor of chemistry. Tsafack’s fellowship runs for a year, but can be renewed for an additional one or two years.