Highlights of the 2017 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit

The Materials Research Society is holding its Fall Meeting on Nov. 26 – Dec. 1, 2017 in Boston, Mass. Following are day-by-day highlights as they are being reported on social media by participants, presenters, and others as well as reports from additional MRS news sources.


  1. Meeting Chairs Ilke Arslan (Argonne National Laboratory), Jason A. Burdick (University of Pennsylvania), Tao Deng (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), James B. Hannon (IBM T.J. Watson Research Center), and Sanjay Mathur (University of Cologne) put together an eclectic program of materials research.
  2. Science Celebrities on MRS TV

  3. Every community has its celebrities and so do materials researchers. Sometimes a researcher can find herself standing side-by-side with such luminaries as did Humaira Taz in Symposium EM02 on multiferroics. Taz wrote a blog piece called Talk Among the Stars about her humbling experience of speaking in the same session as Nicola Spaldin, who received the Mid-Career Researcher Award for her work in multiferroics; Lane Martin, “an expert on all-things bismuth ferrite”; and other accomplished researchers in this specialty. Taz need not be so hard on herself, though, as her colleagues are humble in their own right:
  4. Due to this being an award talk, Spaldin drew quite a crowd, including non-specialists. She said that the ability to attain any two of ferroelasticity, ferroelectricity, and ferromagnetism in one material is appealing to those interested in the physics and chemistry of materials properties as well as to researchers looking for novel materials with useful applications. During an interview with MRS TV, when credited with having published the first article in this field, Spaldin was quick to point out work that has been going on in the field of multiferroics prior to her paper. During the interview, Spaldin also defines the terminology and describes some progress made and remaining challenges ahead:
  5. 2017 MRS Mid-Career Researcher - Nicola Spaldin
  6. MRS TV also caught up with C.N.R. Rao of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in India, who received the Society’s highest honor of the Von Hippel Award. At the opening of the interview, Rao acknowledged the “big names” of the scientists who have received the award previously:
  7. 2017 MRS Von Hippel Award Winner C.N.R. Rao
  8. As other celebrities in the materials research community, when C.N.R. Rao was seen in the halls of the MRS Meeting, he welcomed other researchers influenced by his 50-60 years of work to stop by and talk with him.
  9. Perhaps the egalitarian nature of the materials community is what makes it so successful - this willingness of the researchers to talk and build collaborations across the spectrum, perhaps unaware of their star status!
  10. If an interview with MRS TV is any indication, however, of “star status,” the materials community has up-and-coming celebrities to look out for!
  11. Monica Jung de Andrade, who received the Society’s 2017 Woody White Service Award:
  12. 2017 MRS Woody White Service Award Winner Monica Jung de Andrade
  13. Andy Tay, who received the inaugural MRS Bulletin postdoctoral publication prize:
  14. Inaugural MRS Bulletin Postdoctoral Prize Winner - Andy Tay
  15. and Jamesa Stokes, representing Penn State’s We Are for Science Coalition which is involved in engaging the public with the value of science:
  16. We Are For Science Coalition
  17. Most prominent at this year’s Meeting were the tributes paid to the “Queen of Carbon,” Mildred Dresselhaus. Researchers across specialties missed Millie who died this past February. Along with a one-day Workshop focused on her areas of research held on Monday, MRS also dedicated the November issue of MRS Bulletin on catalysts for nanocarbon growth to Millie, as well as the Women’s Breakfast event and the MRS University Chapters luncheon. More than that, MRS prepared a board where colleagues, students, and family could write their “Thank you” messages to the scientist about whom it was “a shock to realize she was mortal,” as Gopal R. Rao wrote in his editorial.
  18. And so we close our final update of the 2017 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit with this tribute to Millie Dresselhaus: