GradImpact: Managing the Competing Demands of Military Duty and Research in the Pursuit of a PhD

    Graduate students often find time management, self-discipline, and managing stress challenging while pursuing their degrees. Joshua Pearlman, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, is well acquainted with these challenges. After 26 years of Navy service and having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he’s now a doctoral candidate working on his dissertation and serving in the Navy Reserve. Pearlman has been interested in the field of energy since childhood: “I saw (and still see) research as an important part of finding workable solutions to a number of problems we face, including those in the area of energy, where my own project work is in. For me, [getting a PhD] is an opportunity to contribute to that effort in a meaningful way.”


    Pearlman’s doctoral research is in fuel cell system modeling, specifically the way a water-gas shift/membrane reactor behaves. “Working along with other components, the purpose of the water-gas shift/membrane reactor is to supply a stream of hydrogen, free of contaminants, to the fuel cells in certain systems where the original fuel source is a hydrocarbon.” Research into fuel cell systems shows tremendous promise for improving the efficiency of energy conversion. Pearlman’s specific work has potential use in applications including remote portable power generation.


    In addition to everything else on his plate, Pearlman is determined to help others balancing similar commitments by sharing his own experiences. “I don’t know anyone with a typical path. I just found that I had a passion for what I was doing, both in my research and in the military. I’ve learned a lot about myself, not only from my two deployment experiences, but from each of my other military assignments, and from my graduate program. And I hope that sharing these experiences will help others in comparable situations,” concludes Pearlman. To learn more about Joshua and his work, visit the University of Maryland website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.


    Photo Credit: Joshua Pearlman



    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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