Struck from steel

One of just a handful of women metallurgy professors in the country, Professor Elena Pereloma looks to the past and the future for inspiration.

Pereloma is at the forefront of fundamental research to understand the properties of materials at the micro-and atomic scales using electron microscopy and atom probe tomography. Her findings have been applied in industry to improve the strength and sustainability of steel and titanium products.

Forging a career from the shadow of her father and grandfather, both highly regarded metallurgists, Pereloma has carved her own success in research, teaching and industry collaboration. Among her achievements is the establishment of the Electron Microscopy Centre at UOW, which is home to one of the country’s most advanced scanning transmission electron microscopes.

In 2015, she led a team that was awarded almost $1 million by the Australian Research Council to add a focused ion beam microscope equipped with a secondary ion mass spectrometer to the Electron Microscopy Centre’s arsenal.

This grant continues a track record of research funding to the tune of $30 million over a career spanning almost three decades, as well as a significant citation record backed-up by partnerships with steel manufacturers and research organisations in Australia and overseas.

A teacher of undergraduate students and supervisor of 14 conferred PhDs, Pereloma is an advocate for young women to begin and continue careers in engineering, which for her has offered so much personal satisfaction and professional reward.

“The driving force behind my career is the wonder of discovery ­- opening pathways to finding proofs for long ago proposed theories using atomic level information and applying this to optimising the design of steels and alloys." 

“It is extremely satisfying that this work has contributed to the development and production of high-strength, more sustainable materials,” she said.