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Hello. I am Dr. Bethany Hudak, a research chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory. My current research includes the use of scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to investigate and characterize single atom dopants in bulk materials.
I earned a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA. It was at this small, liberal arts institute of less than 1000 students that I developed an interest in research. The professors worked to develop unique lab experiments, such as analyzing the content of water from the nearby town of Saltville or measuring the lead content of department store tent poles. Solving real-world problems using the knowledge learned in the classroom sparked my interest in research, and after years of telling myself that I didn’t want to go to graduate school, I applied to grad school.
I completed my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY working with Dr. Beth Guiton. My research at UK introduced me to transmission electron microscopy and materials science. My research focused heavily on in situ heating in TEM to observe solid state chemical reactions on the nano- and atomic-scale.
From UK, I went on to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where I was a post-doctoral researcher in the Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy group. I worked with Dr. Andrew Lupini to study single-atoms dopants in silicon. We worked to develop advanced microscopy techniques and push the limits of what the STEM is capable of.
I am currently a researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory, where I am continuing my work with atomic-scale imaging and spectroscopy using STEM.
As my research evolves, I want to continue to push the boundaries of STEM. Our world is getting smaller, and the effects from a single atom are becoming more important. Like STM has become a tool a nanoscale surface modifications, I want to see STEM become a tool for fabrication and atomic-scale material modification. Using STEM, we can see atoms, study their environment, and interact with them directly, positioning the microscope to be a powerful tool for material design.