PhD student Scarlet Kong is harnessing shape-changing materials to send soundwaves through the deep
As a PhD student, Scarlet works with defence industries to design next-gen piezoelectric materials for underwater sonar systems. When you squeeze these materials, they produce an electrical charge. And if you apply electricity to the materials, they change their shape!
“We’re enhancing this shape-changing property to use in sonars,” Scarlet says – which gives ships and submarines the ability to ‘see’ underwater, for instance.
A fascination with understanding and controlling materials led Scarlet into her current career.
“Materials science and engineering is looking at how materials behave and how we can change their properties,” she says.
During her undergrad degree, Scarlet scored a six-week US research exchange through UNSW, which opened the door to her PhD project. She encourages other students to seek out opportunities to gain experience outside of their coursework.
“That’s where you’re going to get the most out of your uni journey,” she says.
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PhD student Scarlet Kong’s STEM study pathway
- Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) / Materials Science and Engineering (double degree), UNSW
- Undergraduate Research Assistant, North Carolina State University, US
- Student Ambassador, UNSW
- PhD, Materials Science, UNSW
Are you looking for more incredible reads on STEM professionals achieving amazing things in the science arena? Check out our science career profile hub. We’ve picked the brains of instrument scientists, entomologists, immunologists and other PhD students like Scarlet!
Author: Nadine Cranenburgh
Nadine is an electrical and environmental engineer who works as a freelance writer and editor. She loves creating articles and content about exciting and complex technology.