Dr. Clarina R. Dela Cruz: Multi-Awarded Physicist

  • Instrument Scientist, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Location Overseas: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA
  • Hometowns: Banga and Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines

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Dr. Clarina Reloj Dela Cruz is a highly respected scientist in the field of Physics.

Currently, she is part of the Quantum Condensed Matter Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee primarily working as instrument scientist for the HB-2A Neutron Powder Diffractometer housed at the High Flux Isotope Reactor, ORNL.

Her studies on superconductivity led her to an exciting new subfield of solid state physics – multiferrocis, cutting-edge materials that could one day provide innovations in memory storage devices, such as those used in hard drives and hand–held devices like mp3 players. The same has contributed significantly to the new and emerging science of multiferroic materials which results have placed the Texas Center for Conductivity at UH at the forefront of research.

Imagining the Route

Dedicated and devoted to her career path in physics, Clarina knew she wanted to be a physicist while she was still quite young.

She finished primary schooling at the Kalibo Pilot Elementary School, Kalibo, Aklan in 1986-1992 and was accepted to attend the Philippine Science High School, Diliman, Quezon City (1992-1996). These two institutions were never written in my CV but this is where my interest in science really started. “I was also a DOST scholar, the entire time I was in UP. I think it’s important to know that our government does support students interested in pursuing careers in science and technology.”

At the age of 13, she was already imagining the route she would follow to attain the goals she had set for herself.

Clarina received her BS and MS degrees in Physics at the National Institute of Physics, University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2001 and 2003 where she fabricated and studied the transport properties of various cuprate high temperature superconductors.

She proceeded to complete her PhD in Physics at the University of Houston in 2006, high-lighted by her work on the pressure effect in multiferroic materials at the High Pressure and Low Temperature Laboratory of the Texas Center for Superconductivity under Dr. Paul Chu.

She then pursued a Postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee (UT) and the Neutron Scattering Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with Dr. Pengcheng Dai And Dr. Herbert Mook. As a dual UT/ORNL postdoc, she learned to use neutron scattering techniques to study correlated electron systems particularly the Fe-based superconductors.

Choice of Houston

She decided to come to the United States to earn her PhD in order to broaden her exposure to cutting-edge research and theory.  While making this decision she looked at several universities in this country, but ultimately chose the University of Houston because of her interest in superconductivity and the reputation of Dr. Paul Chu, a world renowned expert in that field.

In 2006, she won first prize and a $1,000 fellowship for her outstanding presentation in multiferroics at the 50th Magnetism and Magnetic Materials Conference in San Jose, California. This event annually brings together scientists and engineers from the world over who are interested in recent developments in all branches of fundamental and applied magnetism.

The student competition which featured physics graduate students from prestigious universities worldwide recognizes research excellence at the graduate level, with the winner facing stiff competition from such institutions as the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands), Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University.  “I considered it a major achievement simply to be chosen as one of the five finalists. I did not expect to win the competition because of the strength of my competitors who attend very prestigious universities.”

Dr. Clarina’s scientific research interests revolve around Experimental Condensed matter physics focused on studying correlated electron systems including unconventional superconductors, iron-based superconductors and multifunctional materials such as multiferroic systems. The use of various neutron scattering techniques in investigating the correlation between structure, magnetism and physical properties is a central theme, with further studies into tuning these properties at ultra-low temperatures as well as high magnetic fields and pressure

Dr. Clarina holds memberships in American Crystallography Association (ACA) (2009-present), Materials Research Society (MRS), 2008-present; American Physical Society (APS), 2005-present; and, FGSA and GMAG of the APS, 2005-present. She was a Research Associate of the High Pressure and Low Temperature Laboratory, Texas Center for Superconductivity, University of Houston (TcSUH) from 2003 to 2006 and Teaching Associate at the Department of Physics, University of Houston for the year 2003.

She was a member of the Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory, National Institute of Physics, UP Diliman (1997-2003).

Roots

Clarina grew up in Kalibo, Aklan, a town in Panay island, located in the middle of the Philippine archipelago. She is married to Joanes Paulus Sy, an airline pilot currently based in Manila. She loves music, plays the guitar and swims in her free time.

Her mom, Dr. Felma Reloj dela Cruz, is a practicing family physician for the past 35 years. Her father, Engr. Camilo Sarabia dela Cruz of Pook, Kalibo, worked with the National Irrigation Administration for few years before leaving for Middle East. At age 41, he died of kidney failure after 18 months of battling it.

Shining Symbol of Excellence

The American Physical Society has awarded her the 2013 International Union of Pure and Applied Physics C10 (IUPAP C10) Young Scientist Prize which recognizes exceptional achievement in the study of the structure and dynamics of condensed matter by scientists at a relatively junior stage of their career. One prize per year will be awarded on the basis of nominations received. The recipient must have displayed significant achievement and exceptional promise for future achievement in an area of experimental, computational or theoretical condensed matter physics.

SIGNIFICANT AWARDS AND HONORS

  • Early Career Scientists Program, Oak Ridge Associated Universities for ORNL
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, ORNL and University of Tennessee (2007)
  • Outstanding Aklanon in Technology research, Provincial Government of Aklan (2007)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Texas Center for Superconductivity (2006)
  • Listed as one of the Notable Alumni in the Philippine Science High School website
  • Sigma Xi Graduate Student Research Achievement Award Winner (2006)
  • 1st Place, Graduate Student Competition, 50th Int’l. Conference in Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, November 2005
  • Most Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation, APS-Texas Section Fall Meeting, October 2005
  • 1st place Best Student Competition, Texas Center for Superconductivity Fall Student Symposium, December 2004
  • Cum Laude, BS Physics National Institute of Physics (2001)
  • Most Outstanding Graduate, BS Physics, University of the Philippines (2001)
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands National Science Awardee (2001)
  • Philippine Department of Science and Technology Scholar (1996-2001)

 INVITED TALKS

  • Invited Speaker, Third Annual Southeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, Jan 12-15, 2012 “My adventures in condensed matter physics: An experimentalist’s story”
  • Invited Speaker, Focus Session: Iron Based Superconductors — Magnetic Properties & Phase Diagrams, APS March Meeting 2011 Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX, USA, March 2011 “Lattice distortion and magnetic quantum phase transition in CeFeAs1-xPxO”
  • Participant, NSF-sponsored Materials by Design Workshop University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, March 2011 “Neutron Diffraction in the study and development of new materials”
  • Invited talk, American Crystallography Association (ACA ) Annual Meeting 2010 Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, Illinois, July 2010“Effect of lattice distortion via Phosporus doping in Fe-based Oxypnictides”
  • Invited talk, 27th National Philippine Physics Congress 2009 Tagaytay City, Cavite Philippines, October 2009 “Neutron Scattering Studies in the newly discovered Iron-based superconductors”
  • Department Colloquium and Faculty Seminar, Department of Physics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) CUHK, Shatin, Hong Kong, November 2009  “Probing into the World of Strongly Correlated electron systems: Materials Characterization and Neutron Scattering studies in Superconductors and Multiferroics”
  • Department Colloquium , Department of Physics and Astronomy RICE University, Houston, Texas, USA, October 2009  “Nuclear and Magnetic structures in Fe-based superconductors
  • Invited Talk, American Conference in Neutron Scattering (ACNS 2008), Santa Fe, New Mexico May 11-15, 2008 “Magnetic Order versus superconductivity in the Iron-based layered La(O1-xFx)FeAs systems”
  • Invited Talk, Neutron Scattering Science Division, ORNL, SNS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, USA, June 2007 “Spin Frustration, Ferroelectricity and Spin-Lattice Coupling in Multiferroic Rare Earth Manganites”

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IMG_3984THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique.  While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.

 

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