Meet Kate Marusak

Tell me a little about yourself! 

After a wonderful undergrad experience at the Materials Science and Engineering Department of NCSU, I went on to Duke to do a MS in Biomedical Engineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. I finished up in Nov of 2017, and after post docing for a couple of months, I joined the Protochips team. I have been there for just over a year now, and I absolutely love it! Protochips expands the already very powerful traditional S/TEM research to incorporate in situ capabilities to mimic real-world conditions, rather than just the conditions of the high vacuum column. We do this by creating miniature environments at the tip of a sample holder using MEMS devices so you can flow liquids or gases while heating or electrically biasing the sample without affecting the TEM vacuum. At Protochips, I’m the Marketing Applications Scientist. I mainly support our customers in their research, but also collaborate with our engineering department on testing and qualifying new products and features and produce sales and marketing materials. Doing my job is fun in its own right, but when I’m not working, other things I do for fun include playing with my sweet pit bull, Lucy, playing board games, and cooking.

What primary instrument(s) are you using for your research and what do you like about it?

A consistent part of my job is the use of the electron microscopes at AIF. I mainly use the Titan/Talos/Quanta for doing product demonstrations for interested customers, R&D on new products, or doing experiments to help us show all the capabilities our holders/chips offer. A large part of my current focus is expanding on our electrochemistry capabilities using our liquid cell holder called Poseidon.

How is your research impacting the community?

This is actually my favorite part of Protochips and my job. When I get to work with people using our systems do their own research, I get the pleasure of seeing how these products are positively impacting the research community. This makes me feel like I’m playing my very small part in pushing technological advancements in all sorts of fields all over the world. We see our products get used for many applications, spanning from the live sciences, to catalysis, to green energy… you name it!

What have you learned from your experience at AIF?

AIF has been instrumental in my own professional development, training me on the electron microscopes when I was in grad school, as well as in the development of Protochips’ products. Electron microscopes are very expensive to purchase and maintain; being able to use the microscopes at NCSU for all our needs has been incredibly helpful. Additionally, because AIF is a shared facility, it allows us to directly interact with world class microscopists and stay in the loop with current research.

Best thing about AIF in 5 words or less?

The expanding capabilities and staff

Is there a staff member at AIF that has helped you?

Many, but I would have to highlight first Rohan, then Yang, and now Matt and Toby for the TEMs and Roberto for the Quanta. The managers of the actual microscopes are the real MVPs keeping them up and running and being available 24/7 to answer questions.