Sean Hearne is currently the interim co-director at the Department of Energy's Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) located at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sean received his bachelors' degree in 1991 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he was trained and licensed as a commercial pilot. He then followed his passion, physics, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in solid state physics from Arizona State University in 2000, where his dissertation research emphasized the mechanical properties of materials. Sean worked from 2000 to 2001 at Intel Corporation, where he was a senior process engineer in the Components Research Group in Hillsboro, Oregon, and was responsible for developing new interconnect technologies for use in future generations of microprocessors. Since 2001, he has worked for Sandia National Laboratories in the Physical, Chemical & Nano-Science Center where he has continued his research in the mechanical properties of materials, materials processing, electrical energy storage and nanotechnology.
Sean has been active in the MRS community since attending his first MRS Meeting in 1995 as a graduate student. Over the years, he has presented, organized symposia, served on a number of committees, task forces and been an officer of the Board of Directors in the role of secretary since 2011. From 2007 to 2010, Sean chaired MRS's Information Services Committee, which oversaw all of the MRS publications, including the MRS Bulletin, Journal of Materials Research, and the MRS Symposium Proceedings. These numerous volunteer roles have given Sean extensive experience with interfacing between the MRS Board of Directors, MRS headquarters staff, and the MRS membership. Sean has also been active in other societies such as TMS, AACG and ECS where he has been a presenter, symposium organizer, and meeting chair. As a member of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico section of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Sean was responsible for event planning and fund raising to support research into a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Sean's research has primarily focused on elucidating the sources of intrinsic stress creation and evolution during thin film deposition and has been well cited in the area of MOCVD growth of GaN and in the fundamental mechanisms inducing stress during Volmer-Weber thin film growth. This work led him to other research topics including micro-/nano- fabrication and nano-enabled devices for electrical energy storage. In Sean's current role at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, he works closely with partners from Los Alamos National Laboratory to ensure CINT has a vibrant international User program that advances the understanding of the fundamental science behind integrating nano-components into systems that impact the macroscopic world.
Materials research is the interdisciplinary melting pot of sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology. It is this combination of diverse disciplines that is the source of the Materials Research Society’s greatest strengths and biggest challenges. Each fall and spring materials researchers come together to discuss their latest research and brainstorm with their colleagues, many times finding new and unexpected directions. It is this exciting environment that brought many of us to MRS and drives us to attend the MRS Meetings year after year. But the materials research community is much larger than the twelve thousand attendees of the combined fall and spring meetings. Materials research is being conducted across the world in many languages, and interacting with this international community is a requirement if we are to address global materials issues such as energy, the environment, and sustainability.
To meet these global challenges, I believe MRS must continue to increase its efforts in four key areas:
- Partnership—MRS must nurture and expand its partnerships with the international materials societies and their governing bodies. A partnership with these bodies is key to advancing the needs of the materials community in its entirety. One such example of a highly successful international collaboration is the long-standing joint meeting between the Sociedad Mexicana de Materiales and MRS, the International Materials Research Congress. This annual meeting has brought thousands of materials researchers together from across the Americas and the world. MRS must work with the international community to determine the best way to raise the visibility and impact of materials science, be it through joint meetings, endorsement, student chapters or other mechanisms.
- Publications—MRS’s partnership with Cambridge University Press has provided an exciting opportunity for MRS to serve its membership by offering a suite of new high-quality journals that target the interests of the materials community. Moving forward MRS must continue to invest in these publications to strengthen their impact to become the “place to publish.”
- Education—Longer term, MRS must continue—and increase—its investments in education and outreach, both to inspire new generations of materials scientists and to elucidate the public as to the importance of materials research. Investment should continue in programs such as the Strange Matter Green Earth exhibit that will spark the imagination of our children (and us!) as well as other efforts such as the MRS OnDemand webinar series. Additionally, MRS should expand its portfolio of textbooks to better serve both graduate and undergraduate students.
- Advocacy—MRS has been very active in reaching out to the US government through activities such as the Congressional Fellowships and Congressional visits. MRS needs to strategically expand these activities to the worldwide stage so our international membership can benefit from the strength and knowledge of the advocacy program.
We as a community must lead in bridging the international borders through partnership, publications, education and outreach.