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.