Postdoc Spotlight: Dr. Emil Sandoz-Rosado

April 29, 2016

By Jenna Brady, ARL Public Affairs

As famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking once said, "Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge."

Science and the prospect of doing impactful science that he can share with the scientific community is what inspires U.S. Army Research Laboratory Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Emil Sandoz-Rosado to continue his research efforts in support of the protection of our men and women in uniform.

A native of Massachusetts, Sandoz-Rosado attended the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where he received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

Sandoz-Rosado stayed at RIT to earn his master's degree in mechanical engineering, supported by the GEM Fellowship, which seeks to enhance the value of the nation's human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented groups at the master's and doctoral levels in engineering and science.

He then went on to receive his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Columbia University with the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Harriett Jenkins Fellowship, which seeks to increase the number of graduate degrees awarded to underrepresented persons in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines.

Sandoz-Rosado currently works in ARL's Materials and Manufacturing Sciences Division, where his focus is on 2-D polymers.

"When I was a doctoral student, the field of 2-D materials was completely new," Sandoz-Rosado said. "I began looking at the mechanical properties of graphene, and when I came to ARL, I continued examining the mechanical properties of graphene and have since transitioned to studying completely novel 2-D polymers."

According to Sandoz-Rosado, 2-D polymers can form covalent networks that are strong, stiff and tough.

"Unlike traditional 2-D materials like graphene and molybdenum disulfide, which are grown through prohibitively slow processes like chemical vapor deposition – it takes hours for just a one-atom-thick layer to be developed – 2-D polymers can be bulk processed, and our knowledge of processing other polymers can aid our synthesis routes," Sandoz-Rosado said.

Sandoz-Rosado added that 2-D polymers are infinitely tailorable, so while their stiffness, strength and toughness could have great application for soft armor materials to enhance the armor provided to future Soldiers, they have a near infinite range of possible functions including chemical and biological agent filtration, sensing, electronics and more.

This research falls under ARL's Materials Research campaign, which focuses on fundamental research to provide superior materials and devices needed to achieve lasting strategic land power dominance.

What Sandoz-Rosado appreciates most about ARL is the collaborative environment that the lab fosters in addition to the resources that are made available to him.

"I like that resources are easily shared within the lab and that collaboration is fostered. I have the opportunity to work on a wide range of topics with experts from disparate fields," Sandoz-Rosado said.

Short term, Sandoz-Rosado would like to join ARL in a more permanent position to continue his projects. Long term, he has goals to build a successful team to coordinate the sophisticated research he is part of that seeks to ensure our Soldiers are unmatched and protected decades from now.

With an extensive academic history in STEM, Sandoz-Rosado has an abundance of sound advice to share with members of younger generations who are interested in a STEM career.

"My main advice would be to constantly challenge yourself," Sandoz-Rosado said. "It is impossible to make leaps in learning without taking risks and entering areas you don't feel comfortable in initially. Take on problems that you don't know the answer to and can't look up – conditioning yourself to think critically means that you will feel lost in the beginning – and the largest part of STEM is asking questions to which there are no readily available answers." Outside the lab, Sandoz-Rosado enjoys Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

For information on ARL's Postdoctoral Research Programs, visit For information on ARL's eight technical campaigns, visit

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for land forces and is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it, or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.

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Last Update / Reviewed: April 29, 2016