Fiona C. Meldrum (University of Leeds)
Fiona C. Meldrum - University of Leeds
Fiona Meldrum holds a chair in inorganic chemistry at the University of Leeds, where her research centers on bio-inspired materials chemistry. She obtained her undergraduate degree in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1989 and her doctorate in bio-inspired crystallization from the University of Bath in 1992. Following a postdoctoral position at the University of Syracuse, USA, she carried out further postdoctoral work at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany, after having been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship. Meldrum then joined the Australian National University in Canberra, before returning to the UK to take up a lectureship at Queen Mary, University of London in 1998. In 2003, Meldrum moved to the School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, where she remained until she joined the University of Leeds in 2009.
Meldrum’s current research focuses on crystallization, with particular emphasis on biomineralization and bio-inspired crystal growth. Biominerals are characterized by many unique features optimized for their function, including remarkable morphologies, superior mechanical properties and hierarchical organization over many length scales. Importantly, all of this is achieved through strategies which operate under mild reaction conditions. Through characterization of the structures of these biogenic minerals and the mechanisms by which biomineralization occurs, we aim to develop new, low-temperature synthetic routes to a range of materials and to produce materials with novel structures. For example, this approach can be used to create crystals with complex morphologies rivaling those of many biominerals, and by doping single crystals with additives including small molecules and nanoparticles, we can generate crystals with composite structures that exhibit mechanical properties akin to those of many biominerals. This is clearly an interdisciplinary subject, and Meldrum’s lab pursues a broad range of research interests that include biomimetics, crystallization, mechanical properties, microfluidics, combinatorial approaches to materials synthesis, and self-assembly. She is director of the recently established “University of Leeds Centre for Crystallization (LCC)” and her research has been supported by grants from sources including the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), EU, and industry. Meldrum is currently under receipt of a five-year EPSRC Leadership Fellowship.
Meldrum has been an active member of MRS for many years and has participated in many ways including acting as a volume organizer, a symposium organizer, a co-chair for the 2013 IMRC meeting, and as a current Editorial Board Member of the MRS Bulletin. She has also organized symposia at a wide range of other meetings including the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), EUROMAT, and she recently chaired a Faraday Discussion meeting in the UK. She is on the Editorial Board of International Materials Reviews and is an active committee member of the British Association for Crystal Growth (BACG) since 2009. She served on the RSC Materials Chemistry Forum Executive Committee from 2005-2008, assisting the RSC in supporting the Materials Chemistry community in the UK and served on the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) for Physical Sciences from 2007-2010. The SAT acts as advisors to the EPSRC, providing, for example, advice on priority and emerging issues, and contributing to the development of strategy.
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“As the largest professional society for materials researchers in the world, the Materials Research Society is in an unrivaled position to support and advance materials research. Based on its core values of technical excellence, interdiscipinarity, and inclusivity, it provides a forum where the global community of materials researchers can meet, collaborate, exchange and transfer information and ideas. This has never been more important than in the current economic uncertainty, when MRS must play a key role in advocacy and take a leading role in promoting materials science and technology. It can ensure that the general public and government understand the benefits of materials research, and lobby the government to support materials research and innovation.
It is essential that MRS remains at the forefront of materials research and continues to offer programs, products and services that support members worldwide. Currently, MRS is best known for its interdisciplinary, world-class meetings, and for professional publications such as the MRS Bulletin, which serves to highlight cutting-edge topics in materials research and technology. MRS must seize new opportunities, as it is doing with the recent launch of MRS Communications, its associated app for tablet computers and phones, and the use of web-based communication tools. There is, however, further scope, using for example electronic media to disseminate key talks at the main MRS meetings.
Although one of the current priorities of MRS is to encourage an active worldwide membership, it is still very much seen as a US professional body by the rest of the world. Extending the reach of MRS, such that it can provide services to a much larger fraction of the international materials research community therefore remains an important challenge, and one which will ultimately bring many benefits to existing members. This could be met in many ways, for example by working more closely with other international societies and organizations and holding scientific meetings in countries outside the US. The 16,000 members of MRS are its key resource and continuing growth of a global membership that comprises students and professionals from academia, industry, and government is essential. This can be assisted by identifying and reaching out to groups that are not well represented within the MRS, and tailoring products such that they meet the demands of, and are readily accessible by, the broader future membership. Thus, there are opportunities to provide resources or deliver educational tools which would enable teachers to incorporate materials-related topics into their classes.
As an active member of MRS located outside the US, I believe that I can bring a new perspective that will enhance the development of strategies and programs that support the mission and membership of MRS.”