Graduate Students Found the Stevens Materials Research Society

8/16/2012

Fifteen Ph.D. candidates from five departments within the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science have come together to found a new graduate student organization – the Stevens Materials Research Society. One of almost 70 university chapters of the Materials Research Society (MRS), the chapter was officially approved this summer and will begin activities at the beginning of the fall semester.

Founded in 1973, MRS is a prestigious international organization of materials researchers from academia, industry and government consisting of more than 16,000 members who specialize in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering and related fields.

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, materials science impacts almost all industrial activities and has been a key enabler of most of the technological advances that have shaped the modern world.

“The ultimate goal of the MRS is to advance materials to improve the quality of life, so activities can vary from creating cost effective solar panels to artificial photosynthesis,” said Erkan Senses, a Stevens Ph.D. candidate, founding member of the Stevens MRS, and president of the organization’s executive board.

The Stevens MRS chapter – which hopes to attract more than 100 members in its inaugural year – will publicly promote materials research, educate the community about its applications, and increase interaction from different departments who have mutual interest in interdisciplinary materials research.

“There are many research groups which conduct materials research at Stevens,” said Linh Le, a Ph.D. candidate, founding member of the Stevens MRS and vice president of the organization. “Ultimately we want to create a materials research community at Stevens made up of graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty, alumni and industry leaders to effectively improve materials education and research.”

The founding group – which is advised by Stevens faculty members Pinar Akcora and Matthew Libera – includes Ph.D. candidates from the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science department, the Physics department, the Mechanical Engineering department, the Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Biomedical Engineering department and the Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering department.

Some of the chapter’s planned activities include: seminars by Stevens materials alumni and distinguished academics and industry researchers from materials fields; field trips to materials companies; social events on campus and with other local MRS chapters; and trips to the MRS fall and spring meetings.

Another special event will be Materials Are Us, in which Stevens MRS members will talk to high school students about the properties of materials and lead them in conducting small nanotechnology experiments. The group is also planning an initiative called Art in Science in which artistic pictures of materials created during Stevens students’ scientific research projects are exhibited on campus.

“Depth of scientific knowledge in a specific research area is essential but not sufficient to build a successful career,” Senses said. “Today’s complicated problems can only be solved with collaboration and communication with experts from different specializations. Through the Stevens MRS, we aim to provide practice in developing these special skills, helping students form important connections with peers and leaders in the field.”

Learn more about the Stevens MRS at http://gradlife.stevens.edu/org/mrs.