Frances Ross, electron microscopy celebrated at 2019 Van Vlack Lecture

The MIT professor's visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of U-M's electron microscopy lab.
Frances Ross, electron microscopy celebrated at 2019 Van Vlack Lecture

Katsuyo Thornton (right), the L.H. and F.E. Van Vlack Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, present Frances Ross with the 2019 Van Vlack Lectureship Award.

MSE was thrilled to have MIT professor and renowned electron microscopy expert Frances Ross as our 2019 Van Vlack Lecturer. While on campus October 17 and 18, she presented two lectures: “Transmission Electron Microscopy in Motion" and "Visualizing dynamic processes in liquids in the electron microscope."

"We were so excited and honored to have Frances Ross as our 2019 Van Vlack Lecturer," said Katsuyo Thornton, the L.H. and F.E. Van Vlack Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. "Professor Ross is a pioneer in transmission electron microscopy. She transformed the field of in situ transmission electron microscopy to enable the observation of crystals as they grow and react in a wide range of environments." 

Frances M. Ross received her B.A. in Physics and Ph.D. in Materials Science from Cambridge University. Her postdoc was at AT&T Bell Laboratories, using in situ electron microscopy to study silicon oxidation and dislocation dynamics, after which she joined the National Center for Electron Microscopy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she studied processes such as anodic etching of Si using electron microscopy. She then moved to the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center where she imaged the growth of nanoscale materials using a microscope with deposition and focused ion beam capabilities and also developed liquid cell microscopy for visualizing electrochemical processes. She joined the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2018. Her interests include nanostructure self-assembly, liquid cell microscopy, epitaxy and electrochemical processes. 

The timing of Frances Ross’ visit on campus couldn’t have been better, as this fall marked the 50thanniversary of the founding of U-M’s Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory (now called Michigan Center for Materials Characterization, or (MC)2). 

Though there was no formal anniversary celebration, Ross’ visit served as a catalyst for an impromptu reunion with those who were the backbone of EMAL in the early years, including founder Professor Emeritus Wil Bigelow, former manager John Mansfield, former research scientist Peggie Hollingsworth, and former graduate students John Mardinly (Chandler, Ariz.), Larry Allard (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Abhaya Dayte (Albuquerque, NM).

The annual Lawrence H. Van Vlack Lectureship was founded in 2001 in honor of Professor Larry Van Vlack, who was instrumental in establishing what would eventually become the current Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Van Vlack authored 12 books, including the iconic Elements of Materials Science and Engineering, which, through its more than 25 foreign editions and translations, has introduced millions of students worldwide to the discipline of materials science and engineering.

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