Thursday, December 1, 2016
Alumni faculty profile: Olivia Graeve
It’s no secret that UC San Diego’s reputation as a top-ranked university is a major draw for prospective students—but it’s also pulling many graduates back to campus to serve as members of the faculty. In classrooms and labs across the university, our alumni are leading new directions in research and helping to train the next generation of innovators.
“We’re proud to have so many talented graduates who return to campus as faculty members, bringing with them fresh thinking that enriches our academic community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego is ranked the 15th best university in the world, a testament to our faculty and students.”
Olivia Graeve is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering and a proud native of the San Diego-Tijuana region. She grew up in Tijuana and attended Southwestern Community College before transferring to UC San Diego to study structural engineering. As an undergraduate, she worked in the lab of Professor Joanna McKittrick and saw first-hand what it takes to run a research laboratory.
“The experience put me on an excellent path toward the professoriate,” she said.
Graeve is working on developing materials that can withstand extreme impacts and are faster and more cost-effective to manufacture. Earlier this year, her lab developed a record-breaking steel alloy—a material that could be used for everything from drill bits, to body armor for soldiers, to meteor-resistant casing for satellites.
Graeve held faculty positions at the University of Nevada, Reno and Alfred University in New York before joining the UC San Diego faculty. Reflecting on how the campus has changed since she was a student, Graeve says that UC San Diego is bigger and better, with more opportunities for students, staff and faculty.
Today, she’s doing her part to ensure the university continues on its upward trajectory. Graeve leads a number of outreach programs for underrepresented students on both sides of the border. She also serves as director of the CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems, which brings together researchers across the San Diego-Tijuana region.
“The opportunity to serve my alma mater and the region in which I grew up is something that is very important to me,” said Graeve. “Coming back to UC San Diego was coming home. Who would not want to be home?”