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Alberto Salleo, Stanford University

Candidate for MRS Board of Directors

Albert SalleoAlberto Salleo is currently Professor of Materials Science and Department Chair at Stanford University. Salleo holds a Laurea degree in Chemistry from La Sapienza and graduated as a Fulbright Fellow with a PhD in Materials Science from UC Berkeley in 2001. From 2001 to 2005, Salleo was first post-doctoral research fellow and successively member of research staff at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where he won two outstanding performance awards. In 2005 Salleo joined the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Stanford as an Assistant Professor. As Chair, he leads the Materials Science Department at Stanford since 2019, ensuring that the department’s educational mission is fulfilled to the highest standard.

While at Stanford, Salleo won the NSF Career Award, the 3M Untenured Faculty Award, the SPIE Early Career Award, the Tau Beta Pi Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Gores Award for Excellence in TeachingStanford’s highest teaching award.

Salleo has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and eight book chapters. He has co-edited two books and is an inventor on 17 US patents. He is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher in Materials Science since 2015, recognizing his impact on the field. Alberto Salleo was elected to the European Academy of Sciences in 2021 and a fellow of the Materials Research Society in 2022.

Salleo has long been active in MRS, having co-organized seven symposia for the general meetings, co-edited a special issue for MRS Communications on macromolecular materials and co-edited an issue of the MRS Bulletin on organic materials for neuromorphic computing. Furthermore, Salleo is a founding Principal Editor of MRS Communications.

Salleo’s research focuses on structure-property relationships of conjugated polymers for thin film electronics, biosensing and energy generation/storage. His work has helped understand charge transport in conjugated polymers and charge generation in photovoltaic blends. He has pioneered quantitative x-ray diffraction techniques and more recently transmission electron microscopy techniques for the characterization of the microstructure of conjugated polymers. Salleo has also recently developed electrochemical devices that emulate the behavior of synapses for neuromorphic computing and that are able to interface with living matter.

Candidate's Statement

Materials Research Society sets the standard for a welcoming and inclusive professional society whose strength over the years has been to avoid a parochial view of what “materials research” is. This approach has allowed MRS to embrace scientists from different disciplines and their materials-related work, thereby leveraging interdisciplinary research toward solving challenges in areas as diverse as human health, the climate crisis or the future of computation. Over the 20+ years I have been involved with MRS I have had a number of collaborators from a variety of disciplines comment on how this particular aspect differentiates MRS from other professional societies. As we face new challenges, I believe that this inclusive approach should remain a guiding principle of MRS.

The growth of the Fall and Spring meetings has been pivotal for the success of MRS, however, it’s time to ask the question of how large we want these meetings to be without sacrificing topical diversity and emphasis on interdisciplinary research. One option we might consider is expanding the offering of focused conferences throughout the year to develop depth and complement the breadth of the main meetings.

While expanding the global reach of MRS remains an important goal, there is room for improvement in outreach within the US, which may result in greater diversity of our graduate programs in materials science. In particular, outreach to universities outside our usual network may provide opportunities for students to learn about materials science and develop a passion for a discipline that is not represented in their home institution. I believe that through networking and some strategic choices, opportunities to perform materials science research may become available to students that we currently fail to reach.

Finally, it is important to reiterate that materials science is at its most powerful when it leverages fundamental advances in service of solving society’s most pressing challenges. Thus, as research at universities seeks to innovate in these areas, it is important that it stays connected to practitioners who have the knowledge and experience needed to help maximize the impact of fundamental research. MRS historically has been very successful at attracting members from industry and connecting them to academics. It is crucial that this connection stays vibrant. As a professional society, we must ensure that our meetings are attractive to all members and provide productive networking opportunities and sessions where the academic and the industrial perspectives can both be represented.

I believe we are entering a new golden age of materials research with exciting developments in all areas, from soft and biological matter all the way to quantum materials. Within this context, MRS must provide leadership and show how the basic principles of materials science provide a fertile ground for interdisciplinary and impactful innovation across the board.