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Scott Beckman


WSU MME Faculty Page


I am a philomath and over the past 20 years have engaged in research spanning from thermoelectric refrigeration, to many-body electron interactions, to transport in artificial organs. My early interests were in theology, philosophy, and music, but when I entered college I selected a practical profession: engineering. My undergraduate training in ceramic engineering was very traditional and I participated in the practical matters of processing materials, characterizing their microstructures, and measuring their properties. I was involved in research beginning my freshman year and I continued laboratory studies through graduation. I also pursued minors in mathematics and philosophy. When I graduated I decided to enter graduate school both to continue my interest in research, and to gain an understanding of the interplay between experimental and theoretical methods. My first semester of graduate school I saw quantum mechanics for the first time and fell in love. I committed the next decade to learning quantum theoretical methods for studying materials and eventually I became a professor of engineering. My experiences taught me that the philosophical understanding about the relationship between theory and experiment was seriously flawed and I put these ideas away as I built my research career, focusing on multifunctional materials, energy harvesting technologies, and defects in materials. The emergence of data science and materials informatics caught my attention; this paradigm potentially offered a method to rectify the relationship between experimental observation and theoretical predictions. I continue to pursue practical engineering research and electronic structure calculations, but all of my research projects now involve an element of data science. At home I enjoy cooking, gardening, and craftwork. Most recently I’ve been learning leatherworking.


  • 1999 B.S., Iowa State University, Ceramic Engineering (minor in Mathematics)
  • 2003 M.S., University of California at Berkeley, Materials Science & Engineering
  • 2005 Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, Materials Science & Engineering (minors in Quantum Mechanics and Semiconductor Science)


  • 2005-2007 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Computational Engineering Science, Departments of Physics and Chemical Engineering
  • 2007-2008 Postdoctoral Associate, Rutgers University, Departments of Physics 
  • 2008-2014 Assistant Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • 2014-2015 Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • 2015-pres. Associate Professor, Washington State University, School of Mechanical and Materials Science and Engineering