Rachel Segalman is the Kramer Chair Professor of Materials and Chemical Engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She received her PhD from UCSB working with Edward J. Kramer in 2002 and performed postdoctoral research with Georges Hadziioanou in Strasbourg, France, prior to joining the faculty at University of California, Berkeley, in 2004. While at Berkeley, she served in multiple leadership roles including interim division director for materials science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and vice chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. She returned to UCSB in 2014 and has been chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering since 2015.
Segalman’s group works on controlling the structure and thermodynamics of functional polymers including semiconducting and bioinspired polymers. This has led to a host of new and promising applications, particularly in plastic thermoelectrics.
Among other awards, Segalman received the 2015 Journal of Polymer Science Innovation Award and the 2012 Dillon Medal from the American Physical Society. She is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar and was named one of Technology Review’s Top 35 Innovators under 35.
Segalman has been an active contributor to the MRS since she was a graduate student (including a Graduate Student “Silver” Medal in 2001). She has organized multiple symposia in the areas of polymer science, organic electronics, and energy relevant devices for the MRS and was a Meeting Chair of the 2013 MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco. She has also served on the Meetings Assessment Subcommittee since 2013. Segalman is an enthusiastic supporter of the MRS and believes in the importance of discovery and fundamental understanding in the materials sciences across both disciplinary and institutional boundaries.
She contributes to the area of materials science through her roles as an associate editor of ACS Macro Letters and the Annual Reviews of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. She takes an active role in scientific policy guidance, having helped co-organize the recent NSF-sponsored, multi-agency decadal study on the future of polymer science. She is a strong advocate for the importance of the national laboratories and user facilities in materials science. As such, she serves on the Board of Governor’s Science and Technology Committees for Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories and on the Advisory Committee of the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. She has published over 120 peer-reviewed publications (with over 8500 citations).
As members, we have traditionally looked to MRS to enable the advancement of impactful and multidisciplinary materials research that improves quality of life by fostering broad interdisciplinary conversations through its meetings and publications. This approach has allowed the MRS to lead the way in creating an engaged, diverse, and inclusive global community of scientists. The MRS has also long taken a growing role in contributing to developing governmental science and technology policy in materials-related areas, as well as advocating for the importance of funding basic materials research. Today, achieving the MRS goal of enabling impactful and interdisciplinary materials research also requires that science advocacy be of increasing importance to the entire MRS membership at the community, national, and international scale. In particular, to achieve these goals it is also important to support communication by MRS members that advocates for the impact of materials research on individuals and society, that explains the role of funding and facilities in enabling that research, and that nurtures and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers.
In essence, the MRS needs to advocate for:
- Sustainable funding of research and science education with a focus on
- The importance of the entire pathway of basic science to applied research and translation to practice
- The symbiosis of academia, government laboratories, and the private sector in innovation
- The value of using science to inform policy
- The impact of materials and engineering on economic growth, industry success and addressing national and global challenges
- The importance of international participation in scientific collaborations and discourse
- Engaging with other academic and advocacy organizations around science and technology policy
In addition to direct advocacy by the MRS (through its Government Affairs Committees), there is also a significant opportunity to train MRS members and volunteers about key issues and how to be effective advocates in our local and broader environments.
I am excited about the possibility of participating on the MRS Board to help the MRS position itself to best enable materials research for the future. In particular, I hope to work with the MRS to develop opportunities for science advocacy through both tutorials to train more of the membership in how to most effectively advocate for the sciences, and also by creating opportunities for our engagement with the greater world on every level. It is vital to effectively communicate how materials research in academic, national laboratory, industrial and international settings are synergistic and critical to a strong future economy. The MRS has a unique platform and responsibility to perform this form of outreach to both the general public and decision making bodies.
Finally, I hope to help support and build our international research community through developing and nurturing partnerships with international materials science societies. The vitality of MRS as an organization and the endeavor of materials innovation are critically reliant not only on fostering this global community, but also in maintaining its health via international participation in our national meetings and encouraging collaborations.