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Chuck Black, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Candidate for MRS Vice President

Chuck BlackMy name is Chuck Black and I am the Director of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where I am also a Senior Scientist. The CFN is a national scientific user facility, which we operate for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a resource for the worldwide scientific community. Each year, the CFN supports the science of nearly 600 researchers from around the world — from universities, industry, and national laboratories. I am responsible for all aspects of CFN operations, including ensuring high-quality support in service of user science, directing our program of internal research, and guiding the professional development of more than fifty scientists and other staff members. I am also currently leading a five-year, major DOE project to modernize the U.S. nanoscience infrastructure by developing and installing new instrumentation across the complex of DOE national laboratories. 

Before becoming the CFN Director in 2016, I was a CFN Group Leader for nine years, responsible for managing the staff and setting group research directions using nanostructured electronic materials for energy conversion. From 1996 to 2006, I was a Research Staff Member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where I investigated alternative patterning approaches for semiconductor electronics. I earned a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University in 1996 and B.S. degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 1991.

Most recently, my research activities have focused on incorporating nanostructures into solar materials. My research was recognized with an R&D100 Award and has been licensed to Edgehog, a company founded in 2018 to commercialize this approach for nanomaterial-based antireflection. While at IBM Research, my collaborators and I pioneered using polymer self-assembly for high-resolution patterning in high-performance semiconductor electronics — work that was recognized with the Technology of the Year Award from Industry Week Magazine and for which I was named Fellow of the American Physical Society. I am also a Senior Member of the IEEE. In my 25-year career, I have also, at different times, performed research in: superconductivity of nanoscale materials; nanocrystal-based materials and devices; low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy; and ferroelectric non-volatile memories. I have authored over 100 scientific publications (h-index 59; Google Scholar) and hold 49 U.S. patents.

The Materials Research Society has been my professional home since 1997. I can vividly recall attending my first MRS Meeting, sitting the entire week in Symposium U: Ferroelectric Thin Films VI and filling my notebook with ideas and questions. My MRS professional service has included some of the most satisfying experiences of my career so far. In 2013, I was one of five co-chairs who organized the Fall MRS Meeting in Boston — the conference that has always been the one nearest to my heart. From 2015–2017, I served on the MRS Board of Directors, where together we discussed the most important issues facing the Society and charted strategic directions for a prosperous future. In these experiences, I witnessed up-close the teamwork and dedication among MRS staff, leadership, symposium organizers, committee members, and volunteers — all of whom care deeply about MRS.

Candidate's Statement

I am a proud MRS member and find it especially meaningful to be part of a Society whose stated mission is Advancing Materials: Improving the Quality of Life. That’s an optimistic and noble mission. It’s an inspiring mission  and, these days, it’s also an urgent mission, because these last two and a half years of COVID-19 have shown us that everything can change, and change quickly. 

With so many challenges in our world today, it seems important that we all recognize the specialness of the MRS mission — which unites us in our belief that materials advances can create a better tomorrow for all of us. 

MRS is our institution, central to our community and helping us realize our aspirations of improving our world through materials research. I am energized by the potential opportunity to help lead the Society toward its identified strategic objectives. From among the important goals MRS has set, let me tell you about three I feel are important to focus on, as they are so key for the future:

Harnessing the ideas and energy of more people. The challenges of today’s world are incredibly hard and require engagement by the global scientific community. MRS must continue to reach new communities and underrepresented populations. We must give voice to the best materials science ideas and empower the brightest minds to tackle these difficult problems. MRS is also well-served by unlocking the creativity and energy of our membership, through new and better forms of volunteerism and service — particularly from younger members.   

Accelerating people’s research. Science communication has always been a chief MRS strength, especially our unparalleled technical meetings. However, the world moves fast, and seemingly moves faster each day. MRS must continue to evolve methods for more timely communication of science — innovating new ways of disseminating progress and information, in support of accelerating research and innovation.

Helping people do work that truly matters. For MRS to fully realize our aspiration of improving the quality of life, we cannot be satisfied with only facilitating scientific communications and education. While those are essential, MRS must also, through appropriate community building and fostering critical engagements across disciplines and organizations, catalyze the technology advances that ultimately provide real solutions to pressing global challenges. 

I love being an MRS member. I am inspired by the science we do and the mission we aspire to fulfill. In closing, let me share an additional, personal goal I will work in service to, if afforded the opportunity to lead  MRS. I will strive to foster an even stronger sense of belonging among MRS members, because of our shared belief in our purpose. While some suggest that institutions in today’s society may be broken, I believe MRS stands as a shining example of what people can do when we work together.