Chiyo McMullin awarded Tirrell Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Research

Monday, June 10, 2024

Chiyo McMullin, a mechanical engineering undergraduate and undergraduate researcher in Tresa Pollock's research lab was one of the recipients of the College of Engineering’s 2024 Tirrell Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Research. The annual award, named in honor of the college’s former dean, Matthew Tirrell, recognizes a graduating senior for showing excellence and promise as a researcher.

“I am so honored to be recognized as a promising researcher,” said McMullin, who graduated from Cupertino High School. “Research has always been very exciting to me, but I never felt like my personal impact was very large. Receiving this award makes me realize that the long hours in the lab were important and my efforts did not go unnoticed.”

McMullin joined materials professor Tresa Pollock’s research lab as an undergraduate researcher in May 2022. For eighteen months, she worked under postdoctoral researcher Sebastian Kube, designing multi-principal metal alloys having a BCC-B2 crystal structure intended to increase operating temperatures of aerospace and nuclear materials. The experience allowed her to build a strong foundation of research principles and sample preparation techniques, as well as contribute to a published paper. For the past six months, and under the guidance of materials graduate student Melina Endsley and postdoctoral researcher Collin Holgate, McMullin has designed and synthesized new intermetallic bond-coat-alloy systems aimed at overcoming fundamental barriers to higher-temperature operation in gas turbines.

“Research excites me, because it gives me the opportunity to be at the forefront of something revolutionary,” said McMullin, who also held officer positions in the UCSB chapters of Engineers Without Borders and Theta Tau. “As a problem-solver, research lets me investigate root causes and brainstorm solutions where there is no right answer, allowing me to be creative and imaginative. As a lover of learning, there is no boundary to the knowledge I can acquire, which is beautiful and captivating.”

After graduation, McMullin will start working as a reliability engineer in Medtronic’s Structural Heart and Aortic Department, performing test-method validations and failure analysis on next-generation cardiovascular devices.

“I have always been passionate about working in the medical-device industry, so I am overjoyed to say that my dream is coming true!” said McMullin, who plans to eventually pursue a PhD in cardiovascular or rehabilitation medical devices with a materials emphasis. “UCSB has provided me with endless skills and experiences that make me confident in my abilities to succeed in my future career and research projects.”

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Student & Postdoc Honors