Growing strong leaders and team champions in work, life and technology

David M. Stepp, PhD

Dr. David Stepp serves as the Chief of the Materials Science Division of the U.S. Army Research Office.   Also, he is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University.  Dr. Stepp’s research interests seek to establish the fundamental relationships between the structure of materials and their mechanical properties, as influenced by composition, processing, environment and applied stimulus. His specific research endeavors include novel toughening mechanisms in transparent polymers, fracture of gels, rapid and validated mechanical characterization of very low volumes of material, fracture and failure analysis and prediction, nondestructive evaluation and statistical data analysis.

The US Army Research Office Materials Science Division Mechanical Behavior of Materials Program: The Mechanical Behavior of Materials program seeks to establish the fundamental relationships between the structure of materials and their mechanical properties as influenced by composition, processing, environment, and loading conditions.  The program emphasizes research to develop innovative new materials with unprecedented mechanical, and other complementary, properties.  Critical to these efforts is the need for new materials science theory that will enable robust predictive computational tools for the analysis and design of materials subjected to a wide range of specific loading conditions, particularly theory which departs from standard computer algorithms and is not dependent upon tremendous computational facilities.  The primary research thrust areas of this program include: a) high strain-rate phenomena (e.g., designing new characterization methods and tools to elucidate the deformation behavior of materials exposed to high-strain rate and dynamic loading conditions, establish a detailed understanding of the physical mechanisms that govern this deformation, and realize novel mechanisms of energy absorption and dissipation); and b) materials enhancement theory (e.g., developing a robust understanding of the interrelationships between materials processes and compositions and the range of properties that can be attained by them, particularly in terms of developing new materials theory capable of predicting such processing-property relationships and identifying novel mechanisms for enhancing specific toughness, engineering and synthesizing new materials containing unique and specifically designed chemical and biological functionalities and activities while maintaining, and preferably enhancing, requisite mechanical properties).  In all cases, brief (less than three pages) white papers describing a specific research objective, scientific approach, and anticipated scientific impact are encouraged to initiate a discussion of potential research directions.

Dr. David Stepp, e-mail:,  (919) 549-4329.