Michael Falk, Johns Hopkins University
“for broadened participation in STEM education in Baltimore elementary schools; for bringing attention to professional and educational climate issues faced by LGBTQ students and researchers; and for pioneered research-based methodologies for integrating computation into the Materials Science and Engineering curriculum”
The MRS Impact Award honors outstanding individuals who have displayed excellence in areas of science communication, education, advancing diversity, mentoring, or community engagement, which reflect the Society’s pursuit to advance materials science and technology to improve the quality of life.
About Michael Falk
Michael Falk is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University where he also serves as the Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins. He completed his PhD degree in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and then launched his academic career as a computational materials scientist at the University of Michigan in 2000. In 2008, he returned to Johns Hopkins as an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering with joint appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Physics.
Falk’s research focuses on utilizing computer simulation on the atomic scale to understand the processes by which materials are pushed out of equilibrium by processes such as bending, breaking, charging and undergoing frictional sliding. His research has had an abiding focus on the ways glass structures accommodate plastic flow, deformation and fracture. These investigations have involved developing new methodologies for deploying molecular dynamics simulations and the development of thermodynamically motivated constitutive theories. Since returning to Johns Hopkins, his funded projects have expanded to include educational research on how engineering students best learn computing and a project called STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES). SABES is a $7.4 million National Science Foundation-funded partnership with the Baltimore City Schools to increase engagement of grades 3–5 students, teachers and communities in STEM learning. Falk has also been a strong advocate for diversity, particularly creating a welcoming climate for LGBTQ people within the engineering and physics professions.