JACOBS SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
OFFICE OF THE CHAIR -
December 4, 2019
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Joanna McKittrick on November 15, 2019. She was 65.
Professor McKittrick was one of the first female engineering faculty members to join the University of California San Diego. She joined the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in 1988, immediately after receiving her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a concentration in ceramic science. She held a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a master's degree from Northwestern University.
Professor McKittrick's main research interests included biological and bioinspired materials science and the luminescence properties of materials. She investigated the structure and property relationships in mineralized and non-mineralized natural materials such as bone, teeth, osteoderms, feathers, quills, and seahorse tails; and determined their failure and deformation modes. These structures have inspired the fabrication of bone and abalone nacre-like composite materials and the development of a seahorse tail-inspired robotic arm.
Professor McKittrick's work on luminescent materials involved developing phosphors for heads-up displays, flat panel displays, and scintillators for drug delivery systems. More recently, her work focused on the synthesis and development of phosphors for LED-based solid-state lighting, resulting in more than 130 peer-reviewed journal publications.
Professor McKittrick's research received international research accolades and inspired the imagination though widespread popular news coverage, including in Popular Science, Nature Discovery and the Smithsonian magazine. She served as Editor of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society, Associate Editor for The Journal of Biomaterials Applications, and Associate Editor for Materials Characterization. Among many other accolades, Professor McKittrick was the recipient of the 2017 UC San Diego Faculty Research Lecturer Award, given in honor of her significant research contributions.
Professor McKittrick was greatly inspired throughout her life by her mother, who instilled in her the value of striving for the best, never giving up, and reaching life goals. These ideals were passed on to her students through her many mentorship roles. In particular, Professor McKittrick was a great supporter of women in science and engineering and was research advisor for many undergraduate students through the years, inspiring them to become better versions of themselves.
She will be deeply missed by her family, her colleagues and friends, and the UC San Diego community. She is survived by her sisters Lisa Cleveland and Marcia Hodulik, her niece and nephews Spencer Cleveland, Nichelle Hodulik, Reid Cleveland, and Evan Hodulik, and beloved cousins.
A celebration of life will be held at Friday, January 31, 2020 at 4 p.m. at the UC San Diego faculty club.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the ACLU.