Dr. Stephanie S. Watson is a Research Chemist in the Infrastructure Materials Group (IMG) in the Materials and Structural Systems Division (MSSD) of the Engineering Laboratory (EL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr. Watson is a Surface Analytical Chemist. Her current research focus is on the service life of polymeric materials. She currently leads a project with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on assessing the condition test methods used on electrical cables found in aging US nuclear power plants that now require re-licensing. The cable project includes an accelerated aging experiment with simultaneous gamma radiation, temperature and relative humidity and examines 8 different condition test methods that measure electrical, mechanical, and chemical properties. Dr Watson also heads a project on automotive paint trace evidence in the Forensics Program at NIST. The goal of this trace evidence project is to improve the uncertainty of current characterization methods used in the forensic community and add a weathering factor to improve the individual identification of evidence.
Her initial NIST research was on the surface characterization of metal oxide powders used in pigmentary and nanoparticle applications (coatings, polymer systems, and photocatalysts). These properties were used to study the reactivity, both photocatalytic and thermal, of these oxides in different media. Traditional methods of physicochemical measurements to determine the composition, structure, and morphology (surface area, gas chemisorption, zeta potential, XRD, XRF, and microscopy) were combined with more advanced techniques of surface chemistry (electron emission spectroscopies [XPS and AES], vibrational and magnetic resonance spectroscopies [FTIR, Raman, EPR, and NMR], and ion scattering techniques [ISS and SIMS]). This research originally fell under the traditional Service Life Prediction programmatic initiative, but has expanded to cover topics in Nanotechnology and Sustainability, such as chem-bio remediation (air and water), transparent self-cleaning surfaces, and dispersion of nanoparticles to improve properties (durability and mechanical) of polymer composites. She oversees the operation of a Bruker EPR for free-radical studies during in-situ UV irradiation on TiO2 and related composite materials. She also co-manages the analytical laboratory in IMG.
Dr. Watson's professional experience prior to joining NIST in 2002 includes employment at Millennium Chemicals, Inc. (now INEOS), in Baltimore, MD, 1998-2002 as a Senior Scientist. She received a B.A. in Chemistry from The College of Wooster in Wooster, OH and obtained a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Watson's graduate research focused on surface characterization and reactivity of heterogeneous catalysts. Many analytical techniques (i.e., Raman spectroscopy, FT-IR spectroscopy, and ion scattering spectroscopy) were utilized with an emphasis on X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). As a post-graduate researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy at Federal Energy Technology Center in Pittsburgh, she studied methods to utilize CO2 emitted from coal-fired power plants using micro-algae. Before working for Millennium, she completed a post-doctoral appointment at Kent State University in Kent, OH, where she tested instrument performance and applications of a Kratos AXIS Ultra XPS with an emphasis on small-area analysis and imaging of polymers and composites.
Dr. Watson is chair for the IEEE D07 working group, Recommended Practice for Applicability of Methods for the Evaluation of Low and Medium Voltage Installed Cable Systems in Nuclear Facilities. She a member of the American Chemical Society, a councilor in the Maryland Chapter, and secretary for the elected Committee on Committees.