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Young Leaders Profiles: Aeriel Murphy-Leonard

Aeriel Murphy-Leonard

Murphy-Leonard receives the SMD Young Leaders Professional Development Award from SMD Vice Chair Suveen Mathaudhu at the TMS 2020 Annual Meeting & Exhibition.

Aeriel Murphy-Leonard first learned about TMS during her undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama. She joined the Materials Advantage student program, a single membership that provides access to four societies: The American Ceramic Society (ACerS), Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST), ASM International, and TMS.

Through TMS, Aeriel Murphy-Leonard strengthened her leadership skills early in her career path by volunteering.

“One of the first committee meetings I ever attended was the Diversity Committee. Through my involvement in that committee I have been able to expand my network and become involved in many other committees,” Murphy-Leonard said.

Her desire to contribute her talents and ideas continued to grow. Murphy-Leonard completed a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan from 2013 to 2018 and then pursued postdoctoral research, landing a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. In addition to her research, she became involved in multiple initiatives to support underrepresented minorities in engineering fields. Among her proudest accomplishments, Murphy-Leonard developed and implemented a leadership camp for female engineering students in Monrovia, Liberia.

In 2020, TMS awarded Murphy-Leonard the Structural Materials Division (SMD) Young Leaders Professional Development Award, funded through the TMS Foundation. Since then, her leadership skills, along with her passion for research, have grown and advanced in tandem with her volunteer service to TMS.

“As a Young Leaders Award recipient, I was able to learn more about the process of becoming a leader in the TMS organization,” Murphy-Leonard said. “One of the most profound experiences was attending a board meeting and learning about the process of being promoted to the board through involvement in committees. This was important because it allows me to develop a plan to work towards my own professional goals within TMS.”

Recently, Murphy-Leonard was offered and accepted the position of assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2020. She begins her new position January 2021.

Her research interests are directed toward developing microstructure-property-performance relationships in lightweight metallic materials. She is utilizing advanced characterization techniques for these studies, including extended fatigue experiments, in situ scanning electron microscopy, and high-energy diffraction microscopy. She is currently studying additively manufactured metallic materials.

“Additive manufacturing of hard-to-print structural alloys will help revolutionize many fields and applications,” Murphy-Leonard said. “The fundamental information we can gather from these studies will better inform our understanding of relationships between processing, microstructure, and properties.”

Additive manufacturing will be one of the areas in a new research program she plans to develop as a new faculty member. Murphy-Leonard serves as an example to aspiring leaders that the path to success often starts by simply getting involved. She is well positioned to advance in her career while also teaching and mentoring others in her future.