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Manish Chhowalla, University of Cambridge

Candidate for MRS Board of Directors

Manish ChhowallaManish Chhowalla is currently the Goldsmiths’ Professor of Materials Science and the Director of the Sir Henry Royce Materials Institute at the University of Cambridge. Prior to Cambridge, he was a professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, his undergraduate alma mater, from 2002–2018. He received his PhD degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2000, after which he was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Chhowalla has been an active member of MRS throughout his career. He is a Fellow, he has organized symposia (large area electronics based on carbon nanotubes and graphene (2009 MRS Fall Meeting) and Challenges and Opportunities for Mobile Electronics (2013 MRS Spring Meeting)), he is on the Editorial Board of the MRS Bulletin, and he is a Meeting Chair for the 2022 MRS Spring Meeting. Outside of MRS, he is an associate editor of ACS Nano and serves on the editorial advisory boards of RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry C and the IoP Journal of Physics: Energy. Chhowalla has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers and has been on the Clarivate highly cited list since 2016.

Chhowalla’s work focuses on the electronic and electrochemical properties of phased engineered two- dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides. This work has enabled applications of metallic atomically thin materials in electrocatalysis and energy storage. His work has also focused on developing ultra-clean interfaces between 2D semiconductors and metals for realizing high performance electronic devices.

Candidate's Statement

The pandemic has changed our lives in ways that were unimaginable at the start of 2020. For scientists, it has disrupted our ability to do research, collaborate and attend conferences. The MRS will play a critical role in reinvigorating the global materials community as we begin to emerge out of the pandemic.

To achieve this, MRS must continue its trajectory towards becoming the premier learned society for scientists and technologists from all relevant disciplines. The post pandemic world offers us the opportunity to take the Society to the next level of engagement. In my opinion, MRS should strive to identify and engage with less represented groups from all disciplines and across the world to enhance diversity and enrich our Society. The technology and communication tools utilized during the pandemic provide opportunities to develop innovative pathways for outreach and engagement. For example, accessibility and affordability could be enhanced via adopting hybrid platforms for MRS meetings. As the global materials community continues to grow, MRS must continue to innovate to engage new members. Novel virtual and physical resources for K-12, undergraduate and graduate students are also critical for building a pipeline for future materials scientists and engineers that will sustain the Society.

Two pressing problems facing our planet are climate change and mitigating the effects of the pandemic. Materials will be key in addressing both of these challenges. Materials for the energy transition will be critical for meeting the global goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. Materials have played an important role in the current pandemic and will be crucial for effectively responding to future pandemics via development of rapid testing, sequencing and vaccine development. This will necessarily require MRS to further expand its scope to include materials innovations and developments from diverse disciplines. MRS has an important role to play in finding solutions for these and other pressing challenges by providing nimble forums for scientists, innovators and policy makers.

The challenge is to address the rapidly changing materials landscape while maintaining the core principles of inclusivity, innovation and excellence. This balance can only be achieved by motivated members, highly dedicated staff and volunteers committed to shared interdisciplinary goals. I am of the opinion that the MRS Board should strive to ensure that the Society is at the forefront of innovation in the products and service it delivers for all of its members and volunteers. The Board should also ensure that the Society is vibrant and operates at the highest level of excellence in all aspects.