Celebrating Achievement: Sage Fulco

In a culmination of years of interdisciplinary research, Sage Fulco, a PhD student in MEAM, successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Controlling Fracture Behavior Through Architecture.” Fulco’s thesis explores the potential of fine-scale architectures in enhancing the fracture resistance of materials.

Fulco’s journey through academia has been marked by a quest for interdisciplinary exploration and practical contributions. Reflecting on his time at MEAM, he shares, “I came into the MEAM PhD program with a background in physics and little idea of exactly what I wanted to study—but I knew it should be something interdisciplinary, collaborative, and make both theoretical and practical contributions.” His research, spanning nanoscale mechanics, data-driven modeling, and eventually fracturing interfaces, underscores his commitment to pushing boundaries and challenging conventional wisdom.

One of the defining moments of Fulco’s PhD journey was learning fracture mechanics from academic Dr. John Bassani, even amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “While the circumstances weren’t what we had expected,” Fulco recalls, “All of us were so deeply engaged that I believe it is the most I’ve ever learned from a class.” Additionally, his international experience at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he conducted pivotal experimental work for his thesis, stands out as an opportunity he thinks he wouldn’t have come across anywhere else.

Looking ahead, Fulco remains dedicated to academia, poised to embark on a post-doctoral research position. Expressing gratitude for the support he received, Fulco extends his thanks to his advisor, Kevin T. Turner, his thesis committee, and the MEAM staff, particularly acknowledging Maryeileen Griffith and Peter Litt for their unwavering assistance, and the technical staff, particularly Peter Szczesniak and Jason Pastor, who were so generous in their time and talent.

As a final note, Fulco offers a piece of advice, “Be curious and collaborative. There are too many excellent researchers, colleagues, and opportunities in our department and at Penn to only focus on your own work.”

You can read the abstract of “Controlling Fracture Behavior Through Architecture” HERE.