Hayes Heads to the Pentagon

December 28, 2020 | Elizabeth Witherspoon

MEMS PhD student wins coveted new internship advising staff of the Joint Chiefs on science and technology

The U.S. Pentagon building aerial image

The U.S. Pentagon building

In a first for both the Pentagon and Duke Engineering, Katherine "Katy" Hayes, a PhD student in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science (MEMS), will advise staff members for the Joint Chiefs about new research in science and technology during a full-time internship beginning in January.

Katherine Hayes“I was told I was selected based upon my diverse internship experiences, as well as my diverse experience in classroom settings while at Duke,” said Hayes, who is pursuing both an MS degree in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and her PhD in MEMS.

“They were also interested in me because of the teaching and tutoring opportunities I have had at Duke that show that I can communicate technical topics to an audience with diverse backgrounds," said Hayes.

Hayes will use these diverse skills as she reviews the latest research in science and technology from universities and industry to advise the staff of the Joint Chiefs. A native of Ohio, she has experience working in the Air Force Research Laboratory as an undergraduate, which she says is how she met April Brown, a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, her advisor. She also has worked in multiple internships for the U.S. government during her time at Duke.

“We know she'll be a good MEMS representative, hopefully creating more opportunities for our PhD students in future years." 

Christine Payne,
MEMS director of graduate studies 

"Through a combination of research and teaching experience, Katy is a great fit for the Pentagon internship. She is really good at communicating difficult science and engineering concepts to a wide audience and I expect that will be useful in this role,” added Christine Payne, director of graduate studies in MEMS.

Hayes expects to graduate in 2021. She is currently working on her PhD thesis on the topic of changes in the oxide layer on indium arsenide, a semiconductor used in biological and chemical sensors.