Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tae Wook Heo

Computational Materials Scientist

Materials Science Division

July 27, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

My working life at LLNL is really exciting and dynamic. I really enjoy working with talented and highly motivated team members. Having scientific discussions with them is my favorite activity during my working hours. At the Lab, I can participate in a wide spectrum of research projects ranging from fundamental science projects to highly applied engineering projects. As I continue my career and research experience at the Lab, I feel that I become a better scientist.

What do your day-to-day work activities include?

Most of my time is dedicated to communicating with team members and collaborators to discuss research scope, plans, funding opportunities, results, and challenges. In addition, I communicate with supercomputers to run simulations of materials behavior at the microstructure-level to support many projects associated with energy storage, actinides, corrosion, metal additive manufacturing, and so forth.

What is one project you’re really proud to have worked on?

Since 2015, I have been part of the Hydrogen Materials–Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), which is a consortium of multiple national laboratories for solid-state hydrogen storage materials as part of DOE’s Energy Materials Network. HyMARC is a multidisciplinary program under which I have learned so many new things from extensive collaborative research activities with my colleagues at LLNL and other national labs. In particular, my contribution involves defining the roles of mesoscale modeling within the consortium and leading microstructure-level research tasks. I’m really proud of being part of this excellent consortium and working with such brilliant people.

What is your educational or career background?

I received my PhD in materials science and engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. My academic training during my PhD study was focused on materials theory and modeling of complex microstructure pattern formation and evolution. I have an MS and a BS in materials science and engineering from Seoul National University in Korea. I’ve been at LLNL since 2013.

What inspired you to go into your field of work?

I was inspired by the fact that complex materials phenomena can be described by relatively simple principles and governing equations, which I learned from the graduate course “Kinetic Processes in Materials” during my master course in Korea. In addition, I was fascinated by the fact that complicated microstructural patterns can be predicted by numerically solving a set of equations on supercomputers. Computational materials science is really attractive to me because it integrates physics, chemistry, and applied mathematics.

What advice would you give to a new employee at the Lab?

Be proud of working at LLNL! You are working with the most brilliant people in the world. Also, be confident of your expertise in your field. You are hired because you are the best! Explore opportunities for working with great teams and participating in great research programs. Think about prioritization of your tasks when you are involved in multiple projects. Efficient time management is critically important to make your research life happy. Improve your communication skills. Effective communication skills are extremely important when you work in a multidisciplinary team.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I try to be a good playmate for my two kids.

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