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Olivia A. Graeve, Ph.D. 

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Jacobs School of Engineering

University of California, San Diego

Education: Ph.D., materials science and engineering, University of California, Davis;

B.S., structural engineering, University of California, San Diego.


Few educators can excel in all of the areas that make up an academic career – teaching, research, and service – and still have the ability to make the entrepreneurial leap.  With the creation of a start-up to commercialize the innovative materials she’s discovered through the course of her scientific research, 

Dr. Olivia A. Graeve is one of the few individuals who can claim this rarefied accomplishment.


Dr. Graeve’s impressive background includes degrees from the U.C. San Diego and U.C. Davis, and professorships at the University of Nevada, Reno, Alfred University, and UC San Diego.  She’s received research grants and contracts from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Department of Energy, as well as multiple industrial partners


Her area of research focuses on fundamental studies of the synthesis and processing of nanostructured materials, including ceramic and metallic nanomaterials and advanced composites.  She’s proven particularly successful at advancing the effectiveness of electromagnetic multifunctional materials for sensors and energy applications. 


The real-world applications of such advanced technical research range from drug release technologies to space propulsion, electro-optics, hydrogen storage applications and beyond. It was Dr. Graeve’s involvement in the invention, development, and refinement of a method of forming corrosion resistant amorphous metals with unprecedented impact resistance and over a million times the corrosion resistance of stainless steel, however, that led to a U.S. patent and the formation of Samorphous Corp., of which she now serves as President and CEO. 


In addition, Dr. Graeve serves as the founding Director of the CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems at UC San Diego. The objective of the Center is to support and promote research activities and technology development in the CaliBaja region, with emphasis in aerospace, biomedical devices.


CaliBaja also aims to connect the humanities, environmental sciences, and social sciences to promote bi-national student mobility and scientific collaborations. To this end, the center brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers and scholars that are highly responsive to the challenges of designing materials and systems for extreme environments, as well as the challenge of exploring the extreme social and economic contrasts found along the Tijuana- San Diego border. 


In addition to her research, teaching and commercial activities, Dr. Graeve has continued to make compelling efforts toward the recruitment and retention of Hispanic students in undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.  She pursues this goal through her activities with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Mexican Materials Research Society, as well as through her role as Director of U.C. San Diego’s IDEA Engineering Student Center.

-By Vinnie Longobardo