Opila obtained her BS in Ceramic Engineering at the University of Illinois, her MS in Materials Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and her PhD in Materials Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the faculty at UVa, Opila was a materials research scientist at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH for 19 years.
Opila has published more than 80 technical papers, has six patents, and is co-author on five book chapters. She is a fellow of the Electrochemical Society and has chaired the Gordon Conference on High Temperature Materials, Processes, and Diagnostics. A member of the ACerS Basic Science Division since 1982, Opila has served on committees for the Richard and Patricia Spriggs Phase Equilibria Award and Robert L. Coble Award for Young Scholars. She was co-editor on a special topical issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society, “Water Vapor Effects on High-Temperature Oxidation and Volatilization of Ceramics.”
Opila’s career has focused on thermochemical stability of structural ceramics and coatings for power, propulsion, and thermal protection systems. Her research interests include thermodynamics and kinetics of high temperature water vapor interactions with metals and ceramics as well as oxidation mechanisms of silicon based ceramics, ceramic matrix composites, and ultra-high temperature ceramics.