Physics Ph.D. student takes home two awards from Materials Research Society

by GradPost Staff
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 11:22 AM

UCSB Physics doctoral candidate Claire McLellan was one of eleven winners of the Materials Research Society (MRS) Graduate Student Gold Award at the 2016 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit held in Boston, Massachusetts.

A graduate research assistant at Dr. Ania Bleszynski Jayich’s Quantum Sensing and Imaging Group at UCSB, Claire was ​recognized for her presentation on Optimization of Nitrogen-Doped PECVD Diamond for NV Center Ensemble Magnetometry of Biological Samples. She was also recognized for her potential as a future teacher and mentor with the recently-endowed Arthur Nowick Graduate Student Award, honoring the late materials scientist and educator Dr. Arthur Nowick. McLellan received her undergraduate degree in physics from Wake Forest University in 2012, where she won the National Society of Physics Students Leadership Award and the Goldwater Scholarship.

We chatted with ​Claire to learn more about her research, her inspiration, and her future plans.


In the Jayich lab, we are studying the NV center, a point defect in diamond. It is a quantum sensor that is extremely sensitive to magnetic fields. Because the NV center is optically addressable, stable in ambient conditions, and diamond is biocompatible, NV centers are a promising platform for widefield imaging of magnetic phenomena in biological samples. We are working towards improving and understanding the limits of magnetic sensitivity in NV center ensembles and using our diamonds to probe magnetic signals.


I’ve always been interested in the sciences. For better or worse, I showed up at college and said I was going to be a physics major, and I went on to concentrate on physics in grad school.


Professor Ania Jayich has been very supportive. She is very hands-on and gives a lot of feedback, which is useful. My other main mentor is a postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Tim Eichhorn​, who is kind of my partner in crime for the biological sensing project. He has taught me so much about physics and NMR techniques.

All the grad students in my lab are very supportive. The way they are always willing to work together represents the whole science and research community here. I can always get help if there is another graduate student or researcher with more expertise. It is a very helpful and collaborative campus – that’s how I would describe it. I appreciate UCSB’s academic environment.



When I was an undergraduate, I wanted to work at a nanofabrication facility. UC Santa Barbara has one of the best fabrication facilities in the country. I also wanted to work with my particular adviser. And the weather doesn’t hurt either!



When I've been a TA here, I enjoyed instructing the students and getting to mentor them. I am considering an academic career path, but I am keeping an open mind to industry. I operate with a lot of optics, so the photonics industry has a lot of interesting options. I am also interested in quantum computing​, which has a lot of parallels to my research.