Making Science Fun with Dr. Ainissa G. Ramirez

Dr. Ainissa G. Ramirez came to visit the Marion Branch early on Monday, December 30, 2013, before she was to do a lecture at the Liberty Science Center. In her youth, she lived in the Marion section, and the Marion Branch Library was the library she would come to as a child after school. As Dr. Ramirez was telling this to Marion Branch manager Dolores Reyes, she was so inspired and humbled by her story and visit, knowing full well that other children will be inspired too, regarding the story of Dr. Ramirez. Dolores had secretly wished and fantasized that someday a celebrity would come in unexpectedly, like Angelina Jolie or Brad. But the visit by Dr. Ramirez surpassed that secret wish!

This wonderful visit from Dr. Ramirez made the light bulb above Dolores’ head shine brightly for a future possible program at the Marion Branch, which could be titled, Crash My Library? :D This would be an opportunity for those who have been inspired by the Jersey City Free Public Library, to come in unannounced, bringing in a short story of how the library inspired them. I will then take a picture of that visitor outside in front of the library.


Dr. Ramirez left her card along with a signed copy of a book she co-authored entitled, Newton’s Football: The Science behind America’s Game. She also left her card after the Marion branch manager requested of her to please come back again. In the meantime, enjoy the photographs that were taken. Dr. Ramirez is a science innovator!


BACKGROUND ON Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D.


Materials scientist Ainissa Ramirez lives for figuring out new ways to control metals and shape them into materials that can be put to practical use — for instance, in the ever-shrinking smart phones. Her research on shape memory alloys — so-called “smart materials” — and on a solder that can be manipulated into place with a magnetic field has kept her busy during her time in Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Metals are often overlooked as a field for innovation,” says Ramirez. “These materials are fundamental to things that we use every day.”

Ramirez is known for discovering a universal solder that can bond metals to ceramics, glass, diamonds and the oxide materials used in semiconductor fabrication. She also developed thin film shape-memory alloys, which have the unique property of “remembering” and reverting back to their original shape.

“My work is in understanding their thin film behavior and integrating them into microelectromechanical systems (or MEMS),” says Ramirez. “We’re now using these materials as a way to move a MEMS device. These materials would help move liquids or blood in medical devices.” The diverse applications for these metals have made them increasingly important and visible to the world, she adds.

Even Ramirez’s side projects are revolutionary; She had a eureka moment while working with a student who needed a project for his senior thesis. “Our main goal was to find a way to strengthen solder, and we ended up with something much greater — a strong, inexpensive material that can replace traditional lead-based solders, which have been banned in many electronic products,” she says. At the time, the most popular lead-free alternative was a tin-silver alloy that is weaker than lead-based solder and doesn’t perform as well.

Ramirez and her student developed a magnetic solder that can be manipulated in three dimensions and selectively heated. The non-toxic solder is made of tin-silver containing iron particles, which makes the solder much stronger. This new material can be melted and then easily and cheaply channeled with a magnet to connect transistors, chips and other components, potentially solving a host of technological challenges.

“Devices such as smart phones are getting smaller and smaller,” notes Ramirez. “The only way to efficiently hold all the information in a smaller space is to stack chips. Having a solder that bonds them and won’t cause the whole circuit board to warp is key.”


SIGNED, SEALED & DELIVERED – The title page where Dr. Ainissa G. Ramirez signed her book, Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, for the Marion Branch Library.

YOU CAN COME HOME – Standing in front of the Marion Branch Library with branch manager Dolores Reyes (left) is Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., who called the Marion Branch home as a child, visiting the library, learning all she can.

MARION’S CORNER? – Just as at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, the Marion Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library has become the place where the self-identified ‘science evangelist’ and Newton’s Football author, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, left a distinct impression.

SIGN OF THE TIMES – “Make. Science. Fun.” What a message! Brought to you by materials scientist Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D.

BY THE BOOK – Judging from this book’s cover, Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez cornered the market on Super Bowl reading!

WHAT A STAR! – Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., materials scientist, who immersed herself in learning at the Marion Branch Library as a child.

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