Susan Ermer leads the Advanced Materials and Nanosystems Fundamental Research Department of the Lockheed Martin (LM) Advanced Technology Center, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA. Ermer has broad interdisciplinary technical and business experience. Her organization includes materials science and engineering professionals with diverse areas of expertise, including ceramics, chemistry, chemical engineering, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, materials physics and electronic materials. She holds responsibility for budget, new business strategy and technical direction for the department. In past years she has been the integration lead for a business acquisition in the area of carbon nanotube technology and served in the Laboratory Director role for a joint LM effort with NanYang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore. The latter effort resulted in a spin out company aimed at commercialization of NanoCopper.
Prior to her transition to management, Ermer held a series of positions from 1987-2000 at LM leading to consulting research scientist, a Fellows-level position. During this time, she established an internal capability in the development of electro-optic polymer materials that helped enable advance the development of polymer-based photonic switching devices. She also worked to develop liquid lens systems for correction of chromatic aberration. Her research interests span the development and utilization of materials with unique electrical, optical, magnetic and structural properties.
Ermer has been active in the MRS throughout her professional career. She served as symposium organizer in multiple years and as proceedings editor in 1999 and 2001. She also served on the Publications Strategy Task Force in 2006. The objective of this task force was “Assess the status and impact of current MRS technical content delivery on the materials research community and recommend actions such that MRS is recognized as the source for high quality, authoritative technical publications spanning the field of materials research.” Ermer then served on the MRS Board of Director for a total of five years. She was first elected to the Board in 2006. During the three-year term that followed, she chaired and served on multiple Board committees including External Relations, Nominating, Governance and Planning. She rejoined the board in 2012 and supported Planning Committee and Industry Focus Group. She has been an active participant in the MRS Congressional Visit Day program over the past nine years. She now serves as the chair of the new MRS Impact Award Subcommittee. During this time she has been proud of her involvement in the evolution of the Society.
Ermer received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Southern California. While in graduate school, she also performed synthetic chemical research at Imperial College, London. She then conducted postdoctoral studies on electrically conductive polymers prior to beginning her career in industry. Though her professional career after postdoctoral studies has been in industry, Ermer has consistently actively pursued academic collaborations. She has served on NSF funding review panels and the Industrial Advisory Board for two NSF Centers. Additional professional memberships have included ACS, SPIE, OSA, IEEE, SAMPE, and SPE. She has refereed papers for journals in broad areas ranging from synthetic chemistry (for JACS) to device physics (Applied Physics Letters). She has served on over 15 organizing committees for international symposia for these organizations.
I have always believed that science is not a collection of facts, nor is science is a competition. Science at its best is a collaborative search for truth.
The Materials Research Society serves and enables this search for truth by connecting people with each other, throughout their lives and careers. The people of the MRS are diverse—representing multiple specialties, nationalities, geographical locations and types of organizations. We have members of academia, large and small industry, government and non-profit laboratories, and independent consultants.
At any MRS meeting one can find students standing near their first poster presentation, enthusiastically explaining their approach, results and contributions to scientific truth. Symposia are held on topics ranging from deep technologies to funding opportunities to career development. The exhibit halls pulse with energy as each year brings new tools that allow us to see more of what nature allows—whether it be smaller, farther, or deeper.
The stellar Fall and Spring Meetings are certainly the signature events for the Society. They provide unparalleled quality and organization leading to programs with exemplary technical depth and breadth. These conferences are usually the first introduction that future members have to the MRS, and I was no exception. Prior to my service on the MRS board, I had long admired the MRS and sought involvement in technical meetings as an organizer, presenter and referee for scientific content.
The Society has a strong heritage as a highly inclusive organization. While meetings are the foundation of the Society, they cannot be the entirety, especially as we move forward to being more inclusive, international and intergenerational. Physical attendance at the meetings is not always possible for many. Therefore we must work harder to reach all who could potentially contribute to scientific discovery, influence policy and improve the quality of life. I have seen this during my MRS tenure in multiple roles, and I am proud that the Society has significantly expanded its reach beyond the meetings with ground-breaking programs in virtual content, public outreach, diversity, government relations and academic affairs. I commit to continuing this trajectory to further broaden opportunities for teamwork, information-sharing and discovery.
I also have a strong appreciation of the importance of service to the global scientific community. I strongly support the increase of international involvement and, in particular, to outreach to communities which are underserved. I strongly support efforts to publish openly and believe that progress does not take place without this openness, despite the challenges. These goals require continued investment in and development of the virtual communication platforms of the MRS.
To echo my opening statement—scientific progress is all about people and what we can do together. It is not essential for a scientist to start out as “right” but to engage with colleagues to refine their discoveries and the interpretations thereof—to proceed to truth. The scientific community—and Science itself—is much richer due to the interdisciplinary interactions fostered by the Materials Research Society since its founding in 1973. It would be an honor to support the MRS in the role of Vice President and I thank you for your support.