Eric A. Stach is currently the group leader for the Electron Microscopy Group at the Brookhaven National Laboratory's Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a Department of Energy National User Facility. In this role, he both leads a research effort focused on understanding structure/processing property relationships in energy nanomaterials, and helps a diverse User base to exploit electron microscopy for their own research efforts.
He received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia in 1998. A significant portion of this work was conducted at the IBM Watson Research Center, through the support of an IBM Cooperative Fellowship. Thereafter, he joined the National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a staff scientist and became the program leader for the Metals Program in 2003.
In 2004, he joined the School of Materials Engineering at Purdue University as an associate professor and as scientific director for the Birck Nanotechnology Center's electron microscopy lab. At Purdue, he was recognized with undergraduate teaching and Early Career Research Excellence awards, by appointment as a University Faculty Scholar, and promotion to full professor in 2010. Stach is also the chief technology officer for Hummingbird Scientific, which he co-founded in 2004. This company produces advanced instrumentation for electron and ion microscopy, and presently employs 20 scientists, engineers and manufacturing specialists.
The MRS has been Stach's primary professional society since his graduate studies (Silver Award winner, Spring 1997), having attending nearly every meeting since Fall 1996. He has organized a number of different symposia over the years (regarding heteroepitaxial growth, electron microscopy, mechanical properties and nanostructure synthesis), edited a volume for the MRS Bulletin on in-situ microscopy, and was a co-chair for the 2012 Fall Meeting. He also served on the MRS Board of Directors from 2013-2015. His company has been an exhibitor at the MRS meetings for many years as well.
Stach's research efforts focus on the development and application of electron microscopy techniques in a broad class of materials research, with the common approach being the exploitation of real-time imaging methods to provide quantitative data regarding materials phenomena. These efforts have focused on such diverse topics as thin film strain relaxation and grain growth, nanoindentation, carbon nanotube and semiconductor nanowire nucleation and growth, novel carbon structures, nanocrystal synthesis for photovoltaics, understanding energy storage materials and fundamental catalysis studies. He has published of order 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and given many invited presentations at academic, government and industrial laboratories.
It is an honor to be asked to stand for the position of MRS Secretary. It is a critical role in the operation of the Board of Directors, and thus the overall management of the society.
I know when I vote for these sort of things, I always ask myself “Secretary? What is that all about? Why do they need a scientist to be a secretary?” From my prior experience on the MRS Board of Directors (2013-2015), I have a much better sense of what the roles are in this position. I’d like to describe how I see them, as well as how I plan to fill those duties to better the Society.
Firstly, the Secretary is primarily responsible for making sure that the actions of the Board follow the procedures established by the Society. This means knowing and enforcing the rules of order for the Board meetings, as well as those that govern how the various Board committees as they exercise their function. The Secretary is also charged with making sure that these rules are kept up to date and are clear, and proposing rule changes as appropriate to the Board in order to streamline its operation. This may seem trivial on first glance, but it is in fact quite important – the Board of Directors meets only two to three times a year to make a wide range of decisions. The Secretary performs an important role in making sure that these meetings are efficient and productive.
Secondly, the Secretary serves a three-year term as a member of the Governance Committee – the Governance Committee is composed of the Past President, President and Vice President, the Treasurer and Secretary, the Executive Director and the heads of the other functional Board Committees. The Governance Committee sets the Agenda for the Board meetings, as well as the charges to the individual committees for their yearly activities. During the course of this three-year term, nearly all of the members of this committee save Vice-President (as future President), Treasurer, and Executive Director (as a full time employee of the Society) rotate onto and off of the committee. Thus, the Secretary has an important role in helping to maintain continuity in the Board’s vision and direction, and to be a historical memory of both why and how certain prior decisions were made. Based on my recent three-year service on the Board, including as a member of the Finance Committee and head of the Planning Committee, I have a rather fresh memory of the issues that the Board has been considering over the past several years, and thus can provide this historical perspective to the Governance Committee. I think this is important.
Finally, while the MRS is a vibrant, healthy and successful society, there are challenges ahead. With the recent change in the Spring meeting venue, MRS is undergoing the biggest change in its most important product – MRS Meetings – that it has confronted in 20 years. I voted for the change to the Phoenix venue, as I (and nearly all other Board members) felt it was the best of the options available. However, it is important for the Society to keep its focus on providing the most compelling meeting and an attractive meeting venue. We must be vigilant in ensuring that our community is happy and engaged with that location, and working our best to make sure that that venue becomes a new home. However, if that does not succeed, we need to rationally evaluate what other choices may be available and act as appropriate.
I care deeply about the MRS and its mission to ‘advance interdisciplinary materials research and technology’. I would welcome the opportunity to serve you in this role.