Jenifer Locke ’04 | University of Wittenberg


Known as an introvert during her high school years, Jenifer Warner Locke, Wittenberg class in 2004, is grateful for her liberal arts education and thanks the University for helping her come out of her shell and become the holistic intellectual. that it is today.

These days, Wittenberg’s major in physics and minor in mathematics at Wittenberg have found the perfect blend of teaching, research, family and service, as an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University’s Fontana Corrosion Center.

“I worked for a year at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) in materials and manufacturing at AFRL (Air Force Research Lab) with metallic glasses. I saw the ability to make metals interesting, I knew the engineers and what they were doing, and it became a year-long job that I really enjoyed doing, so I decided to go at college to learn more about it, ”said Locke, originally from Massillon, Ohio.

She applied to the University of Virginia in the summer of 2005 and completed her doctorate. in Materials Engineering in December 2010.

“My research is now exactly the same theme as my graduate research, environmental corrosion and cracking,” she continued. “We researched why metals degrade due to corrosion, so I too wanted to get into the sustainability business. I was interested in this area of ​​study and how you mitigate the effect of the environment. Most metals don’t want to be metal, so you have to find ways to keep them metallic in order to maintain long-term durable use. The research can be used for aeronautical, automotive and naval structures, as needed. “

After graduating from graduate school, Locke stayed for an additional year to help train new graduates of the program.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I have visited many different and new places and attended many conferences and conferences during my stay. I got to see a lot of different things. Then I took a job with Alcoa, an aluminum company in Pittsburgh. I worked there from 2011 to 2014 in the automotive and aerospace corrosion area before taking the position at Ohio State.

At Ohio State, Locke received the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. According to her research page on the Ohio State website, she and her team are studying how the environment causes cracking and failure in aluminum-based alloys to accelerate. The award will stimulate research and education on why some aluminum-based alloys are more resistant than others to environmental-induced degradation, which may inform more sustainable use of these metals and d ‘others and prevent failures. Another rewarding aspect of the award is that it allows Locke to give back to his undergraduate institution.

Locke and his team perform environmental assisted cracking experiments on model alloys. During these experiments, the team uses an experimental technique developed in Locke’s lab under previous NSF funding to monitor the pH of the crack tip and correlate it to the strength of each type of alloy. NSF CAREER funding will support a graduate student for five years, five years of REU (Research Experience of Undergraduates) and RET (Research Experience for Teachers). Through the funding, she partners with the Wittenberg Physics Department and Professor Elizabeth George to sponsor an undergraduate student from the University of Wittenberg to her lab each year.

“When I first started writing my grant, I wanted something that would combine the research-funded faculty component with an educational component,” Locke said. “I had to think of something that brought together my research, education, and still be inspiring at the same time. My husband and I were talking about it to help me find out what I wanted deep down, and I realized that the one thing I couldn’t get in Wittenberg, because of its size, was what looking like in a bigger school. So I chose to include this experience in my plan and fund a first cycle of Wittenberg every year.

And now, thanks to his scholarship at Ohio State University, a student from Wittenberg can apply to work in Locke’s lab every summer. The first Wittenberg student to apply was Lizzy Cefaratti, a 2022 class physics student from Wittenberg from Lebanon, Ohio, who spent her summer as a research assistant under Locke’s guidance.

“Lizzy is learning all about materials and materials science and will continue to work with us,” Locke said. “I have a graduate student, an undergraduate and a high school teacher – Scott Spohler from Springfield STEM School – working together on this particular grant. My graduate student Gabby Montiel is from the University of Florida, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She is pursuing her doctorate. work with Lizzy and Scott. In addition to the research, they did a classroom demonstration that Scott can take back and use in the classroom.

Locke, who was a member of the Society of Physics Students, was involved in theater, served as a mathematics workshop tutor, and was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority while in Wittenberg, is delighted to work with Wittenberg as she cherishes his time at the University.

“I got lost in the crowds at the big schools – so I wanted to go to a smaller place,” she said. “I loved my stay in Witt. I have fond memories of Wittenberg. I like the fact that I have a liberal arts education. My classes were fun and I try to make my classes fun for others. I have learned that writing is extremely valuable and I talk to students about the importance of writing all the time. I feel like Witt has made me a more complete individual. And it’s interesting how I still find myself on a stage giving lectures, even in high school, it was like that, which makes my theater experience very valuable. Teaching oral and written communication at Witt has paid off. Getting a liberal arts education sets me apart.

Locke currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband, Landon, who also graduated from Wittenberg in 2004, and their children Clara, 6, and Oliver, 3.

From left to right in the photo above: Lizzy Cefaratti ’22, Jenifer Locke ’04, Gabby Montiel and Scott Spohler.


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