Lincoln J. Lauhon is the associate chair and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in physics from Cornell University in 2000 and performed postdoctoral research in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University prior to joining Northwestern in 2003. At Northwestern, he has coordinated strategic planning for the department, enhanced professional development opportunities for graduate students, designed a model admissions process, and engaged graduate students in program evaluation and improvement.
Lauhon has been active in MRS for 20 years, beginning as a graduate student attending the 1996 Fall MRS Meeting at which future Nobel laureate Shuji Nakamura wowed a standing room only audience with a blue laser pointer. His graduate students continue to attend MRS meetings to hear and present inspiring work at the frontiers of materials research. Lauhon organized symposia in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, and Spring 2012, and has served on the Program Development Subcommittee (PDSC) since 2011. On the PSDC, he has worked to improve the symposium proposal review process, and co-led with David Ginley a task force on improvements to the meeting chair handbook and orientation. Lauhon has assisted, in various capacities, in organizing meetings including the Electronic Materials Conference (TMS/MRS), Pacifichem (ACS), the American Physical Society (APS) Meeting, the Physics and Chemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces (AVS), the AVS Symposium, the International Conference on Solid State Devices and Materials (JSAP), and the Nanowire Growth Workshop (CECAM).
Lauhon’s research interests include the physics, chemistry, and applications of nanostructured semiconducting materials and devices. At Northwestern, the Lauhon group specializes in the correlated imaging of nanoscale structure and properties to provide a rational basis for the discovery and application of materials to meet challenges in energy, sustainability, medicine, and information technologies. Lauhon pioneered the use of atom probe tomography to analyze doping in semiconductor nanowires and probe the ultimate limits of composition control, and has recently extended atomic scale tomographic analysis to 2-D materials. The group also combines charge transport measurements and modeling of 1-D and 2-D materials and devices with scanned probe microscopies, providing new methods to measure electronic properties of materials on the nanoscale. In particular, they have used scanning photocurrent microscopy to understand the impact of spatial variations in dopants and defects on low dimensional device characteristics. Lauhon has published over 135 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters that have been cited over 10,000 times. His work has been recognized with the NSF CAREER Award, a Sloan Fellowship in Chemistry, and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award.
MRS is an effective society thanks to its professional staff, visionary board leadership, and member volunteers who organize the fantastic meetings and serve on committees that improve the work we carry out together. Broad participation is essential to make the meetings relevant, must-attend events. As MRS is an international society with a mission to communicate the benefits of materials research to society, my priority as a board member will be to improve continuous communication and engagement with members worldwide, focusing on opportunities to enhance the short and long-term benefits of participation for student and industrial members. The long-term vitality of the organization depends on continuous participation.
Student engagement: Student and postdoctoral researchers present the majority of talks and posters at MRS meetings, and transformative meeting experiences will ensure they return as independent materials researchers, whether in academia or industry. As board member, I will emphasize the importance of student and postdoctoral engagement to maximize the chance that participants return to the meeting with their future students and employees. I will welcome, promote, and financially support student driven initiatives to enhance meeting engagement and impact, such as networking opportunities between students and with industrial members, who provide a critical perspective on training future materials researchers. The 50 weeks of the year outside the fall and spring meetings represent an opportunity for even greater engagement. I will strongly support current MRS efforts to recruit more and more diverse University Chapters worldwide, as local chapters are well positioned to organize activities throughout the year. For example, MRS student chapters can play a key role in communicating to the general public through local and international outreach efforts, thus advancing the society’s mission. Regional student chapter activities can also provide important professional development and networking opportunities, particularly for students at smaller and more diverse institutions. Involving student leaders now will forge future leaders for our organization.
Meeting outcomes: MRS meetings will continue to thrive and support the overall mission by generating lasting and positive outcomes for all participants. To be effective in guiding the society, the MRS leadership needs to understand what outcomes are most impactful and what meeting events and organizational structures best support those outcomes. As a board member, I would work with the Technology Innovation Forum and the Industry Engagement Council to examine whether the historical practice of separate technical and broader impact symposia best serves members’ needs. Experiments with hybrid symposia should be considered, and we should explore efficient ways to seek student and postdoctoral researcher input on meeting events and organization. Meeting and symposium chairs typically serve for a single meeting, which has the positive outcome of making the content dynamic, but we need to ensure that their transient efforts are directed and supported in a way that contribute to the larger strategic goals of the society. My experience at the tactical level with the PDSC will inform my perspective on strategy at the board level towards important goals including increasing the diversity of engaged participants in MRS.
During my service to MRS on the program development subcommittee, I have observed several board members and former MRS presidents participating on the committees and task forces that keep the organizational vital and forward-looking. Inspired by their passion and commitment to the organization, I would be honored to continue my service at the board level. I would bring a commitment to student engagement through new channels of participation within and beyond the semiannual meetings, and a continuing focus on improved meeting outcomes by enhanced support of meeting and symposium chairs.