In the April 2018 issue of MRS Bulletin, an article entitled, “The materials science and engineering undergraduate enrollment floodgates are open,” by R. Allen Kimel and Susan B. Sinnott, notes the dramatic increase in materials science and engineering (MS&E) enrollment—as much as 175% in some instances—observed at many universities during the past 10 years. The article also points to favorable trends in employment of MS&E graduates in academia, national laboratories, and industry. The future appears bright for the materials field. And that is great news for the Materials Research Society (MRS) as well, as we stand ready to provide professional development and career services that will help prepare these students for the critical transitions from undergraduate STEM education, to graduate MS&E programs, and finally to careers in materials science.
As mentioned in my July 2019 “Letter from the President,” the MRS Board of Directors set forth a strategic plan in 2017 “to engage our members across generations to advance their careers and promote materials research and innovation,” and we are making great strides. For example, in collaboration with four leading scientific societies, MRS is participating in the NSF INCLUDES-funded Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN), created to support and increase the number of underrepresented ethnic minority students pursuing PhDs in the physical sciences.
In addition, while we continue to offer a broad range of career services at the MRS Spring and Fall Meetings—sessions on presentation and communication skills, salary negotiations, publishing opportunities, resume writing, and more—the online Career Central on the MRS website now provides an array of valuable resources. Besides the Job Board, our members will find international funding lists, templates, and tip sheets for job seekers and free access to the archived Salary Negotiation Workshop and MRS OnDemand® Career Webinars. The iMatSci Innovation Showcase has become an increasingly valuable platform for innovators to demonstrate their newest materials-related technologies. And the Journal of Materials Research (JMR) now publishes an annual ”Early Career Scholars in Materials Science” issue, providing a unique opportunity for researchers to be highlighted and promoted early in their careers.
MRS has long been known for its vibrant meetings and high-quality publications, featuring energy and sustainability, nanomaterials, structural materials, soft materials, and much more. To support these growing needs, the Society has introduced late-news programming and new topical areas, including artificial intelligence for materials design, emerging biomaterials, quantum materials, and responsive and adaptive materials, to our meetings and publication portfolios.
To reinforce these efforts and to provide expanded networking opportunities for our members, we held the MRS Frontiers Reception at the 2019 MRS Spring Meeting in Phoenix. During that energetic brainstorming session, we shared refreshments, hors d’oeuvres, and ideas for forging new content and communities at the frontiers of materials research. The reception was lively and so well received, that we’ve decided to do it again! If you’re attending the 2019 MRS Fall Meeting in Boston, I invite you to join us on Thursday evening for another round of exciting and thought-provoking discussions on hot-topic areas in materials research. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with peers working in these critical areas of materials research. And, your input can help influence the direction of the Society in which we all take such pride.
Finally, as my year as MRS President draws to a close, I thank and celebrate the nearly 1000 volunteers as well as our members, leadership, headquarters staff, vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, host cities, and the materials community, without whom our accomplishments would not be possible. Together, we are the Materials Research Society … engaging our members across generations to advance their careers and promote materials research and innovation.