In 1973, our pioneering founders could never have imagined the tremendous growth the Society would see over the next four decades. An initial roster of 215 members swelled to a diverse community of over 16,500 women and men spanning 82 countries. A one-symposium event on phase transitions grew into the MRS Spring and Fall Meetings—interdisciplinary in nature and annually hosting over 11,000 presentations across 100 topical symposia. A slim newsletter known as MRS Bulletin became a precursor to an electronic publications portfolio attracting over 5.8 million abstract views per year. And a lobby display on materials science became Strange Matter, a multinational, multicontinent traveling science museum exhibit.
Of course, the tremendous growth and success of our Society is the result of member input and the energetic efforts of many MRS volunteers. They offer their precious time, their spirit, their expertise, and their unique perspectives for the betterment of the materials community worldwide. We would be remiss if, at this time, we did not thank all those—members, volunteers, officers, headquarters staff, vendors, advertisers, exhibitors, sponsors, host cities, and the materials community—who have helped create the framework upon which the Society has matured and flourished.
Taking this momentum forward, the next 40 years promise to deliver even more excitement and innovation. The Materials Research Society Foundation, launched in 2012, will expand support with permanent funding for grassroots projects that further the MRS mission of advancing materials and improving the quality of life. In just this first year, we’ve funded three grassroots, member-proposed outreach projects to bring the excitement of scientific literacy and awareness to underrepresented minority students and teachers. In addition, the Foundation funded six University Chapter Special Projects and will increase that support beginning in the new year.
We’re also excited that our University Chapter Program is expanding internationally. This allows our talented and enthusiastic students to network and collaborate on ideas across all scientific disciplines, spanning campuses and continents. And with MRS OnDemand® and our innovative approach to virtual technologies, we now provide live-streamed events, allowing real-time interaction between students, as well as an online library of award talks, technical talks, and other special presentations to those who cannot attend MRS Meetings in person.
We also recognize that diversity drives innovation, excellence, and new discoveries, so as a Society, MRS is dedicated to becoming more inclusive—engaging all geographic and demographic groups. To that end, we’re offering free electronic membership for students in developing countries, working toward a more diverse governance structure, and encouraging a more diverse pool of nominations for MRS awards. We’ve made great strides and I am confident if we all work together, we can create an environment where researchers from all backgrounds can strive to strengthen the worldwide materials community.
Yes, it has been an amazing 40 years for both the materials community and for MRS. During that time materials research has quickly progressed to change our history and shape our world, and the next 40 years promise even more excitement … as new pioneers continue to advance materials and improve the quality of life worldwide.
2013 MRS President