The Newtown Square, Pa.-based International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD) has elected Nichole Wonderling, x-ray scattering manager with Penn State’s Materials Research Institute (MRI), to join its membership.

Wonderling now becomes one of approximately 300 scientists from around the world who are active members of the ICDD, serving on the board of directors and various committees and subcommittees. The membership advances developments in the field of x-ray powder diffraction and related disciplines.

“We in MRI are very pleased to see that the excellent scientific contributions of Nichole is being recognized by the ICDD,” says Clive Randall, director of MRI. “She now joins a long list of Penn State scientists who aided in the creation of the international data sets for powder diffraction databases, a list that goes all the way back to the early work of Penn State physicist Wheeler Davey in the 1930s.”

Working in MRI’s Materials Characterization Lab, Wonderling’s primary expertise is in x-ray scattering, which encompasses techniques used to characterize not only primarily crystalline materials but also semi-crystalline and non-crystalline materials. As her role is one of support of MRI faculty research, she is involved in a variety of materials characterization work using a wide range of instruments, sample types and analysis methodologies. This includes seven x-ray instruments that are used by approximately 400 individual researchers each year.

The group she manages also supports faculty members by analyzing samples and results for them or teaching their students to how do the analysis themselves. Her team also supports a variety of industry partners who use MRI’s services and expertise. She also oversees the production of training materials, maintains lab equipment to ensure quality data, and conducts data interpretation and quality control.

“My work supports any and all research that benefits from x-ray scattering techniques which are used to understand, for example, the structure and composition of materials,” Wonderling says. “I have worked on projects that ranged from investigating polymeric materials for artificial hearts to developing concrete materials for use in space, to improving the shelf life of food and dietary supplements.”

Wonderling began her Penn State career in the former Materials Research Laboratory in 2000. Prior to coming to Penn State, she was in research and development at the North American Refractories Technical Center in State College, Pa. 

“Over the years, I’ve worked with several Penn State faculty members that were heavily involved with the ICDD including Dean Smith, Jerry Johnson, and Earle Ryba,” Wonderling says. “I always admired their commitment to the organization, and I learned from each of them. So, it was quite an honor to be invited to apply for membership and I was very pleased when I was approved.”