Christopher A. Schuh is the department head and the Danae and Vasilis Salapatas Professor of Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.
Schuh’s academic training in materials science and engineering focused on metals, including their processing, microstructure and mechanics. He earned his B.S. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2001. He held the Ernest O. Lawrence postdoctoral fellowship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 2001-2002 before moving to join the faculty at MIT in 2002.
Schuh’s research is focused on structural metallurgy, and seeks to control disorder in metallic microstructures for the purpose of optimizing mechanical properties; much of his work is on the design and control of grain boundary structure and chemistry. Schuh has published more than 225 papers and dozens of patents, and received a variety of awards acknowledging his research accomplishments.
Schuh has co-founded a number of metallurgical companies. His first MIT spin-out company, Xtalic Corporation, commercialized a process to control the internal structure in metal electroplated coatings down to the nanometer scale, producing exceptional mechanical and functional properties. These nanocrystalline coatings have been deployed in applications ranging from machine components to electronics, and are in wide and continually growing usage around the globe. Schuh’s startup Desktop Metal is a metal additive manufacturing company offering 3D metal printers that are sufficiently simpler than current options to enable broad use across many industries. Recently, Schuh co-founded Veloxint Corporation, which is commercializing machine components made from custom nanocrystalline alloys designed in his MIT laboratory, with properties designed to address extreme mechanical situations.
Schuh’s service career has closely connected him with MRS for the past 15 years. In addition to co-organizing three MRS symposia, he participated on the Student Awards Committee for three years, including as its Chair. He was on the MRS Letters Task Force to evaluate MRS publication strategies, and served as Principal Editor of the society’s flagship journal, JMR, from 2009 to 2012. Schuh’s service to the field more broadly includes a number of leadership positions. Since 2011, Schuh has served as head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. He also currently serves as the coordinating editor of the Acta Materialia family of journals, including Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia, and Acta Biomaterialia.
I view the Materials Research Society as the most significant convener of the broad materials community that spans all materials classes, functions and properties. Compared with other societies, it is unique in its breadth, and I view this breadth indeed as its great strength. The coming years need to see MRS build upon this breadth, opening our doors ever wider to accommodate the rapid changes coming to it, and growing the community strategically in a number of key directions.
In an era of global research and collaboration, MRS faces a number of significant opportunities to broaden our worldwide presence in strategic ways. I am a constituent who personally experiences the incredible value of connecting and collaborating with others from several continents, and I am passionate about integrating the MRS community more globally. I see the growing materials research communities in Asia and Oceania as a particularly relevant constituency for further connectivity with MRS in the coming few years, and hope to see targeted publication and meeting activities that can aim to expand our horizons in this direction.
MRS is also a gateway through which students and rising young scholars connect with, and begin to shape, our field. The rising generation of materials scientists is larger than the one before it, and increasing college enrollment trends for our field portend significant growth for the MRS community for some years to come. MRS has a strong student program which we should strive to further bolster for ever greater capacity. Additionally, the needs and expectations of the rising generation as to what constitutes good communications and connectivity are different and continually changing. I hope to champion MRS as a society that not only adapts to effectively connect with these new researchers, but which also mentors them and gives them an active role in shaping our meetings and services.
Compared with some branches of science which have a limited set of customers for research, materials science is unique and special for its incredible spectrum of customers; our research serves virtually every industry of humankind. Because I view our field as an engineering science, I hope to see deep connections between our research output and the community of engineers who can put it to work in products. MRS effectively convenes the scientific research side of the field, but I hope to see it grow its connectivity to the engineering side. Greater industrial outreach and sponsorship, more meeting symposia dedicated to technology transfer, and publication efforts that illustrate the connections from basic science to market needs and forces would be a service to our entire community.
It is a time of growth for our field—from the bottom up through our student population, from the globalization of collaborative research, and from the growing needs of the industrial customers of our research. I believe the MRS Board should have a focus on strategically planning for growth. Just as I see the breadth of the current MRS community as the source of its uniqueness and strength, I view further growth and broadening as a clear path to even greater strength in the future.