The challenges facing human society and the environment are becoming increasingly stark. Our efforts to address these challenges – including climate change, clean energy, communication and information technology paradigms, and the wise use of resources that are under increasing stress and demand, among many others – are fundamentally underpinned by materials research. Indeed, materials research stands poised to transform many of these challenges into opportunities for humankind and the planet. However, at the same time as the need for science-based solutions for these challenges and opportunities has come into increasingly sharp focus, scientific illiteracy and disinformation is increasing around the globe, while international competition increasingly brings us into conflict with the fundamental values of openness that are essential for science and technology to thrive. We as a community have a duty to counter these trends by committing to long-standing principles of scientific discourse and knowledge dissemination, and by educating and informing the public.
Since its founding, the Materials Research Society has positioned itself precisely at the intersection of the issues outlined above: as an international society that serves as a convener and conduit for the global materials community to interact and share information and progress, with a long time focus on technology areas that transform the way we live, and that works through many channels to build public awareness of the importance of the interdisciplinary research and development that is represented in the MRS’ membership.
Our approach to this mission cannot be static. For example, the rapidly changing nature of the ways that scientists and engineers communicate requires us to continually adapt to best serve the needs of the community. The MRS has demonstrated its ability to adapt and grow, as evidenced by the society’s partnership with Springer Nature, which provides an exciting and sustainable path forward for the MRS’ publication activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has also opened our eyes to both the strengths and weaknesses of new ways to collaborate and share information. We need to take the lessons learned from this and quickly redevelop best practices that are both effective and might for instance help mitigate some of the environmental consequences associated with meeting travel.
My goal in joining MRS leadership is to support the society in partnership with the Board of Directors, Headquarters leadership and staff, and the members in developing strategies that allow the MRS to stay ahead of these trends, focus on the technical areas that are of most interest and importance to its membership, and be a recognized leader among professional societies in its support for its membership and its approach to pursuing its objectives.
Finally, as a member-driven society, supporting, enhancing, and expanding the MRS’ membership is required to achieve the MRS’ vision and goals. The society’s key functions in knowledge dissemination & publications, education, government relations, outreach, recognition, and building networks cannot be advanced without engaging the research community as well as the public in as broad a manner as possible. This includes engagement at all career stages, giving increased attention to serving underrepresented groups, and providing mechanisms and forums within the society that address inclusion, equity, mentoring, and professional development.
Together we can achieve these goals.