About MRS

Sharon Glotzer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Sharon C. Glotzer

Sharon C. Glotzer is the Anthony C. Lembke Department Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  Glotzer is also the John Werner Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and professor of materials science and engineering, physics, applied physics, and macromolecular science and engineering.  She received a BS in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a PhD degree in physics from Boston University. Glotzer was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the Polymers Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she co-founded and directed the NIST Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science before joining the University of Michigan in 2001. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. She received the MRS Medal in 2014 and gave the MRS Communications Lecture in 2017.

Glotzer currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. As a member of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Advanced Scientific Computing Research Advisory Council from 2011–2016, Glotzer advised the DOE on long-range plans, priorities, and strategies for the development of advanced scientific computing architectures and their use in materials discovery and design. She has served on several boards and advisory committees of the National Science Foundation (NSF), including e.g. NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC) where she represented the Division of Materials Research. In that capacity she worked to establish new NSF programs supporting computational and data-driven materials science, including materials software development. Glotzer chaired the APS Divisions of Condensed Matter Physics and Computational Physics, as well as the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics, and chaired the 2016 March Meeting with over 9,300 presentations. She led the APS Working Group on Soft Matter that established the Topical Group on Soft Matter, serving as its first past-chair. She authored or co-authored numerous technical reports, including three that contributed to the vision and launch of the Materials Genome Initiative. Finally, Glotzer is a long-standing and active member of the MRS and has organized many Fall Meeting symposia. Her students have received four awards at annual MRS meetings, her group has presented dozens of contributed talks, and she has presented many invited talks at the fall and spring annual meetings.

Glotzer’s current research on computational assembly science and engineering aims toward predictive materials design of colloidal and soft matter, and is sponsored by the NSF, DOE, DOD, Simons Foundation and Toyota Research Institute. She runs a large computational research group of 35 students, postdocs, and research staff, has published over 235 refereed papers, and has presented over 350 named, plenary, keynote and invited talks around the world. Glotzer’s introduction of the notion of “patchy particles,” a conceptual approach to nanoparticle design, has informed wide-ranging investigations of self-assembly. She showed that entropy alone can assemble shapes into many structures, which has implications for materials science, thermodynamics, mathematics, nanotechnology, biology and more. Her group’s “shape space diagram” shows how matter self-organizes based on the shapes of the constituent elements, making it possible to predict what kind of ordered material will emerge from disorder. In a previous life, Glotzer contributed to our understanding of the glass transition by demonstrating cooperative, string-like motion and dynamical heterogeneity in simulations of glass-forming liquids – foundational work that continues to impact research today. Her group develops and disseminates powerful open-source software, including the particle simulation software toolkit, HOOMD-blue, which allows for fast simulation of materials on graphics processors. They are now expanding the toolkit to apply machine learning tools to materials discovery and design.

Candidate's Statement

Today, more than ever, the field of materials research is a global one. Its members comprise a diverse and vibrant community, spanning multiple formal and informal disciplines beyond traditional materials science and engineering. Materials researchers can be found in many academic units, modeling, synthesizing and investigating materials in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, electrical engineering, and many other departments beyond the MSE Department, with applications that touch every aspect of society.  Since the Stone Age, human civilization has always been defined by its mastery of the materials available to it.  What materials will define our world in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Undoubtedly, those materials will be information-rich, adaptive and reconfigurable, multifunctional and multifaceted, hierarchical, and will appear more like integrated matter systems than simple materials. They will be self-assembled from the bottom up and 3D-printed from the top down. They will be discovered via data-driven investigations, designed on computers, tailored with personalized properties, and made -- on demand -- cheaply and ubiquitously. MRS will play a critical role in helping us realize this future by bringing the great diversity of materials researchers together to share ideas, promote and communicate concepts to the public and to those who control science funding the role of materials in defining our future, and celebrate scientific and technological materials milestones.

The importance of a professional society like MRS as a global point-of-presence for such activities cannot be overstated, in particular at a time when the number of publishing venues and publications is exploding, where our community is more intellectually diverse than ever before, and where cutting-edge materials research is beyond multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and even transdisciplinary. Today materials research is best described as convergent; that is, beyond nano-, beyond bio-, beyond info-, etc. to a space where all of these themes converge and naturally blend together. MRS provides a venue to promote continued convergence. As a member of the Board of Directors, I will work to advance the mission of MRS towards this vision of the future. Issues of particular importance to me include high performance computing, data science, and the long-term support of a reliable, sustainable, open-source materials simulation software / data-driven design ecosystem; education of materials researchers in data analytics and computer simulation; growing the pipeline of materials researchers from under-represented groups; and ensuring that the materials community is diverse, inclusive, and free from bias and bigotry.