My group at Georgia Tech strives to:
Welcome people from all nationalities, backgrounds, and identities
Provide everyone with a supportive environment for developing professionally and personally
Keep a growth mindset: success is the result of sustained effort, embracing challenges, persisting through failure, and seeking feedback
Build a collaborative environment where everyone shares knowledge with each other
Broaden participation in engineering by recognizing our privileges and using them to lift others
If you are interested in joining and these values resonate with you, please continue reading.
Prospective group members are expected to be interested in topics related to aeroelasticity and structural dynamics and share our values.
Research experience is welcome but not expected, especially for undergraduate students. Same with publications. There is always a first time for everything.
Familiarity with basic aeroelasticity and structural dynamics concepts is welcome but not expected. People with relevant backgrounds may be prioritized depending on the type of opportunities available, but the potential for growth and commitment to learning will also play a strong role in selecting new group members.
All group members will be involved in some form of computational research, so experience with coding will help and willingness to learn is expected. Our research has involved coding in Python, C++, Fortran, and/or MATLAB (but knowing one programming language is typically sufficient to pick up other languages quickly).
Experience with finite element and aeroelastic analysis, especially using MSC Nastran, is welcome but not expected.
Some tools and resources we use are listed here. Long-term group members are expected to use some of these (LaTeX for writing, Git for version control, etc.).
Additional expectations on various topics are below. Most of this information is mainly relevant to Ph.D. students but some of it applies to all group members:
Independence and work ethic: I monitor everyone's progress closely and am happy to provide hands-on guidance to help students hit the ground running. While some students are natural self-starters and are highly independent since their first research experience, I strongly believe that anyone can develop these qualities with time if they put in the effort. I do expect students to consider their research as seriously as a job and to take ownership of their projects as they progress in their studies.
Working hours: I don't enforce specific working hours or locations but I do expect students to be responsible for their project and attend meetings, giving enough notice in case they can't (unless it is an occasional last-time issue). I expect students to respond to non-urgent email/Teams requests within one business day. If we are working on something with a close deadline I expect a faster response (within 1-2 hours), but we will have an upfront communication on this and it will not happen often.
Publishing: Every Ph.D. journey is unique, so I don't have a fixed number of publications I expect from students. However, I encourage students to publish regularly. First, sharing our discoveries with the scientific community is a way we can advance our field. Second, publishing allows us to collect feedback, which leads to new ideas and higher quality work. Third, attending conferences and publishing papers help students get their names out and secure their next position. Last but not least, the ability to communicate complex information concisely and clearly is a critical skill for nearly any career. For these and other reasons, I recommend students plan at least one publication per year (except in their first year). This can be a conference paper that we then build upon for a journal article. I am aware that not all students will have experience with publishing before joining, and I will guide them through the process.
Funding: I don't expect students to bring their own funding and bringing funding does not automatically guarantee acceptance into the group if we are at maximum capacity or there is no fit. This said, I strongly encourage students to identify and apply for any opportunities they may be eligible for, such as fellowships, travel grants, and awards, among others. I'll support students in their applications and point out relevant opportunities I am aware of as well.
Career goals: I don't expect my students to want to stay in academia (I did not want to be a Professor when I was a student). While I can provide first-hand advice on how to pursue a faculty career, I will do my best to support students interested in other career paths (and students who are not sure what they want to do yet).
How to reach out
Thank you for your interest. Below are some instructions on how to reach out:
Please reach out via email (not social media!)
Mention who you are and what you are looking for (GRA position, UG research, etc.)
If you are reaching out for a research opportunity
Describe your background and attach your CV (unless I know you well already)
Describe your interests in structural dynamics and/or aeroelasticity
Remember to mention your tentative start date and time commitment
I usually reply to emails within a week, you can follow up if I take longer. However, I will only reply to those who follow the instructions.
Also, I will not reply if:
We talked very recently and I have already said that I cannot offer an opportunity in the near future
The email addresses me inappropriately ("Hey Cristina", "Dear Madam", "Dear Sir", or other unprofessional salutations)
The email could have been sent to any group at any institution (that is, it does not even mention Georgia Tech or my research area)
The email only mentions interest in being funded but does not provide any details about background and interests in my research area
Additional information specific to undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting scholars can be found below.
Notes: We can only fund students enrolled in or accepted into one of the Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering (GT AE) programs. We cannot admit a student that is not at GT and has not applied to our programs directly to our group. I am happy to talk to students outside GT about their interests and potential opportunities in our group, but they must eventually go through the regular application process (which has deadlines) to be eligible to join us.
Additional information about the GT AE programs, how to apply, and deadlines are below:
We can host visiting students from other institutions, but they are expected to have their own funding (more in the dedicated section below).
Unfortunately, we may not always be able to accommodate all those who reach out, regardless of fit and qualifications. This is in part due to funds availability (for funded positions) and because I commit to mentoring people closely, which requires time and energy.
Status: 1-2 opportunities currently available for Spring 2023
Our group welcomes GT AE undergraduate students interested in aeroelasticity and structural dynamics. If you would like to learn about research opportunities, please reach out via email to arrange a meeting. I am happy to meet in person or virtually.
You are not expected to have taken AE 4220 – Structural Dynamics and Aeroelasticity, though the class will give you fundamentals in this area and help you understand if it aligns with your interests.
You are not expected to have done undergraduate research before.
How undergraduate research works in my group: I will give you with a list of topics based on ongoing research efforts. You are welcome to pick a topic from the list or propose other topics (within reason). Once we have agreed on a doable project of common interest, I will outline the activities expected for the semester and give you materials to get started. I meet with undergraduate students every week for 30 min to one hour unless we agree to skip. Most of the meeting is dedicated to discussing research, but I often use some time to talk about topics such as classes to consider taking and job opportunities. I also involve undergraduate researchers in relevant experiences related to their projects, such as meetings with other students or collaborators, preparing papers, etc.. I am happy to support students interested in multiple semesters of research (e.g., to satisfy the BS/MS requirement). Undergraduate students are welcome to join group meetings if their schedule allows.
I am happy to provide feedback on application materials to current or prospective group members interested in applying for scholarships.
Note on funding: We are currently unable to offer funded undergraduate research opportunities. However, GT provides some support, see here.
Status: please reach out via email to inquire about opportunities (if you have not done it already)
If you are a prospective graduate student interested in our group, you should apply to the GT AE graduate program listing Aeroelasticity and Structural Dynamics as your primary research area and me as a faculty member you would like to work with. You can find information about applying here (M.S.) and here (Ph.D.). You are welcome to reach out via email to discuss potential research opportunities.
The deadline to apply for the GT AE graduate program in Fall 2022 has passed. The next admission cycle is for Spring 2023 or Fall 2023.
The deadline to apply for Spring 2023 is in October 2022 and the one for Summer or Fall 2023 is in December 2022.
How M.S. research works in my group: for graduate students who are not doing a Ph.D., research will work as described above for undergraduate students. The difference will be in the complexity of the research project. While funded M.S. research opportunities may occasionally be available, most opportunities will be for academic credit.
How Ph.D. research works in my group: depending on the funding source, Ph.D. students may or not have a pre-assigned project. If the Ph.D. is funded by a sponsored project, the research scope will already be defined. While I am happy to leave Ph.D. students free to pursue additional research directions, this will be possible only as long as the project goals and deadlines are met. If a Ph.D. student brings their own funding (e.g., by securing a fellowship), there can be more flexibility regarding the research scope, as long as it remains in the area of structural dynamics and/or aeroelasticity. Either way, we will make a multi-year plan and a shorter-term plan for the following few months. This will help us keep track of the big picture while making steps toward completing the Ph.D.. I meet with Ph.D. students every week for 30 min to one hour unless we agree to skip. As for undergraduate students, most of the meeting time is dedicated to discussing research, but I often use some of the time to talk about other academic and career-development topics. I expect Ph.D. students to send me a weekly update on their work the day before we meet, which will help us make the most out of the meeting time. We will have a weekly group meeting to discuss common topics and as an opportunity for students to learn from each other.
Best practices for reading scientific papers (e.g., of potential advisors)
Graduate fellowship opportunities:
I am happy to provide feedback on application materials to current or prospective group members interested in these or other fellowship opportunities.
Status: no funded opportunities currently available
If you are a recent/soon-to-be Ph.D. graduate or postdoctoral researcher interested in our group, please reach out via email to discuss potential future opportunities.
How postdoc research works in my group: postdoc research will work as described above for Ph.D. students (though we do not have funding for postdocs at this stage). The main difference will be in the complexity and length of the research project. I will do my best to help postdocs secure their next positions. The academic job search is very fresh in my mind, but I am also supportive of postdocs interested in other career paths.
Postdoctoral fellowship opportunities:
I am happy to work with postdocs interested in joining our group to help them secure funding.
We are open to hosting self-funded visiting scholars who commit to come to Georgia Tech (no virtual visits). If you are interested in this option, you are welcome to reach out via email to discuss potential topics of mutual interest that you could work on with us.
How research as a visiting scholar works in my group: research will work as described for undergraduate and M.S. students (see above), but the complexity of the research project will vary depending on the visitor's career stage (M.S. student, Ph.D. student, etc.) and length of the visit.
Note for international visitors: we are not involved in the paperwork to obtain visas, thus we cannot help with resolving visa-related issues or delays. You should keep this in mind when planning to visit, depending on the time constraints you have (dissertation defenses, graduation dates, etc.).
Note for all visitors: we are not able to provide on-campus housing for visitors. You are expected to take care of housing and travel arrangements.