Megan Frary

Boise, ID, US
Field of Work 
Materials Research
Boise State University
Job Title or "Student" 
Associate Professor
Northwestern University and MIT
Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering
Education Level 
Profile Biography 
My favorite subject in school was math for as long as I can remember. I enjoyed chemistry in high school, but soon found I enjoyed physics even better. With a love for math and physics, becoming an engineer seemed the obvious choice. At Northwestern University, I was fortunate to learn about the field of materials science and engineering. I'd had an idea in my head about what I wanted to do as an engineer, but I didn't quite know what to major in. It turns out that materials science was just what I was looking for. It had the right mix of science and engineering and satisfied my desire to make things stronger, lighter, or just somehow "better."

After earning my B.S. and M.S. degrees in materials science at Northwestern, I spent a year and a half working as a research engineer at Caterpillar in Peoria, IL. I loved my job! I was developing new materials for diesel engine applications. I spent my days testing the high temperature strength of materials, improving the test apparatus, and working with the mechanical engineers who were designing the engines. The only reason I left Cat was that I had the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. at MIT.

My time at MIT as a graduate student was a great experience. There were days that were tough. I wondered if I was really as good a student as my classmates. I wondered if I'd ever finish what my advisor asked of me. I wondered if I could really solve the problem in front of me so that I could finish my thesis and graduate. But there were days that were great. I got my papers published. I solved problems I didn't think I could solve. I knew more about the research I was doing than anyone else in the world. I finished my Ph.D. in three years and was on to my next adventure as a professor at Boise State University.

I joined the materials science and engineering department at Boise State University as an assistant professor in 2005. I have a research group with about five graduate students and five undergraduate students. I teach primarily undergraduate courses in materials science. My favorite part of my job is working with the students, both in and out of the classroom.

Outside of work, I keep busy enjoying what Boise has to offer. I love to ski (downhill and nordic). In the summer, I do a lot of cycling (road and mountain). I like to read, cook, and have just taken up sewing. I've found that being an engineer helps me figure out a lot when it comes to sewing! My husband and I have two little girls under the age of three. Between work and the girls, I don't have much time for the other things in life. I do have to say that it's difficult to manage working full time with being a mom like I would like to. Nevertheless, I enjoy both roles.

One of my favorite things about being a scientist is getting to share my understanding of the physical world with my children. My daughter (age 2 1/2) loves to watch things melt and is constantly asking whether certain objects can melt. We talk about things being liquid and solid. She loves to look for the moon and we talk about how the sun and moon seem to rise and set in the sky. I don't need to have a Ph.D. to answer these questions, but I appreciate that I can give her accurate answers that satisfy her curiosity... and some of that is due to the time I've spent learning about math and science myself.
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