Dr. Tara Michels-Clark is a dynamic STEM Mentor from the U.S. Department of Defense. 

She began her undergraduate studies part time when she was fourteen and graduated at nineteen with her degree in Mathematics and a minor in Physics from King University. From there she went on to receive her M.S. in Mathematics, which she pursued while simultaneously working as a teaching assistant at East Tennessee State University, as an adjunct instructor at Northeast State Community College, and other local colleges. After earning her M.S., she worked as full time Mathematics faculty at Middle Tennessee State University while concurrently taking Chemistry courses. She earned academic awards in Physical and Analytical Chemistry while at Middle Tennessee State. She was honored to receive her own full independent funding for her Ph.D. studies from the Swiss National Science Foundation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2009 where she worked on a multinational, inter-discipline research project developing new computational methods for elucidating the local structure of disordered crystalline materials.

Dr. Michels-Clark also received the Lori Meyer fellowship from the University of Tennessee graduate school and a stipend enhancement fellowship from the Chemistry Department both based on academic merit. Her Ph.D. research was conducted at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with researchers and professors at the University of Zürich, University of Bern and ETH Zürich. During her time at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Michels-Clark received several speaking invitations to present her research at national and international conferences, including the International Union of Crystallography Congress and General assembly in Madrid, Spain where she received a young scientist award and was able to attend the assembly and observe as major decisions in the field were raised and voted upon by leaders in the field. She also received several research merits and poster presentation awards and was invited to present her work to perspective students at the University of Tennessee department of Chemistry research open house and during the weekly departmental seminar.

Upon finishing her Ph.D. in Theoretical Physical Chemistry with an interdisciplinary computational sciences minor in May of 2014, Dr. Michels-Clark accepted an offer for post doctoral fellow position at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bio-imaging division under Dr. Nicholas Sauter developing new algorithms for processing X-ray Free Electron Laser diffraction data in collaboration with the Diamond Light Source, UK, and research groups at the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University. Dr. Michels-Clark has extensive experience solving complex scientific problems using mathematical and statistical analysis, global optimization algorithms, and high performance computing. Her innovative data analysis and processing protocols are implemented in software used by scientific facilities worldwide.

Dr. Michels-Clark’s work has been presented in invited and contributed talks at both national and international conferences, published in top international scientific journals and featured in the Department of Energy weekly highlights and in a Joint Institute of Computational Sciences press release. She has recently accepted a career position with the Department of Defense as an Applied Research Mathematician, which she began in June of 2016. Dr. Michels-Clark has also maintained an interest in education and outreach and has volunteered for outreach projects in mathematics and science for middle school students throughout her career and hopes to continue contributing to S.T.E.M. outreach programs.

Helpful research weblinks of Dr. Michels-Clark: