We are almost three months into this most unusual of fall semesters, and I am glad to report that despite numerous challenges, we are successfully navigating the new normal. Our faculty and staff are working tirelessly to ensure that MatSE students receive a meaningful educational experience despite social distancing and the fact that instruction in many courses is taking place remotely. Researchers have been back in the laboratory since the middle of June, and the research enterprise continues. Each time I am on campus, I am heartened to observe MatSE students, faculty, and staff following the safety protocols that are in place to keep everyone safe during this global pandemic.
I am extremely pleased to welcome new faculty to the MatSE family. As you will see in this newsletter’s cover article, they possess unique expertise that will greatly strengthen research and education in materials science and engineering at Penn State.
The excellence of MatSE faculty and students has been recognized through a variety of honors and awards that are also described in the newsletter. The department welcomed back, remotely, two alumni to present the Tressler and McFarland lectures that normally would have been given in person on campus in the spring. I hope that you will likewise enjoy the alumni spotlight on Ryan Dirkx, who just stepped down from leading the MatSE External Advisory Board.
I am also pleased to note that the National Science Foundation has renewed the Center for Nanoscale Science, which is a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), at $18 million for six years. The MRSEC enables high-quality, interdisciplinary work on topics that are refreshed every six years, providing graduate and undergraduate students with valuable research experiences. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the first MRSEC at Penn State. The Department of Energy also awarded a new $10 million energy center on three-dimensional ferroelectric microelectronics. This was one of only [PC1] ten such awards announced in 2020. The Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency also selected Penn State to lead a $30 million university research alliance with a specific focus on investigating how ionizing radiation interacts with matter.
These are not easy times, and yet the Penn State spirit is alive and well in MatSE. As always, I appreciate hearing from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-863-3117. I would love to hear from you and hope it is not too much longer before I can welcome you back to campus.
Susan B. Sinnott
Professor and Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering