An associate professor of mechanical engineering, Cortez joined Union’s faculty in 2007.
Her teaching focuses on materials science and engineering and on courses supporting the College’s nanotechnology minor. Her research is in the area of nanomaterials synthesis and characterization. She has co-authored several journal publications with Union undergraduates and faculty.
Cortez’s many interdisciplinary materials-related research projects include the examination of solder material for personal computers, encapsulation of hazardous waste material into an environmentally friendly waste product, fatigue of a turbine engine blade alloy, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) device development, and nanomaterials characterization. She is a co-inventor on five patents based on MEMS technology.
Her teaching goals include instilling an appreciation for the role that materials play in simple and complex applications, and she aims to raise awareness of the importance of materials to technological advancements.
She has served as the College’s director of Undergraduate Research and was responsible for administrative leadership of the Undergraduate Research program. This included coordinating the annual Steinmetz Symposium, a college-wide exposition of student scholarly and creative achievement.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University. She was a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.