Distinguished Alumni Lecture

The Materials Science and Engineering Department Distinguished Alumni Lecture is an award to recognize alumni who have made seminal contribution to materials research, as evident by published scholarship, patents/technology transfer, mentoring of early career materials researchers and service to the materials profession. The award recipients will be mid-to-late career researchers in academia, government or industrial R&D. 

The alum to be recognized will be selected by the department chair based on nominations from the MSE faculty.

The awardee will be the department’s invited guest of honor on the day of the annual graduation dinner in the spring. The lecture will be presented during the day as a graduate seminar followed by lunch with the graduate students and one-on-one meetings with select faculty. In the evening, the award will be presented at the graduation dinner followed by brief remarks by the distinguished alum to the graduating seniors.

2019 (Fall) - Greg Hilmas

Greg Hilmas is a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Ceramic Engineering and Chair of the Department of MSE at Missouri S&T. He received his BS in MSE from the University of Minnesota in 1986, his MS in Ceramic Engineering from the Ohio State University in 1989, and his PhD in MSE from the University of Michigan in 1993.  He was a post-doctoral researcher at U-M from 1994 to 1995.  Prior to joining Missouri S&T in 1998, he worked at Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. in Tucson, Ariz.  

Prof. Hilmas’ research expertise is in the area of processing-microstructure-property relationships in structural ceramics and ceramic matrix composites, including ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs). He has been awarded >$24M in research contracts from more than 30 different funding agencies and private companies.  He has coauthored 148 journal papers, 65 conference proceedings papers, >470 invited and contributed presentations, and holds 12 U.S. patents.  His current research, predominantly funded by DOE, NSF, ONR, DOE/NNSA, and private industry, involves the development of UHTCs for aerospace applications.  He also has active research programs in welding of ceramics and additive manufacturing of ceramic and bioceramic materials.

Prof. Hilmas is a member of TMS, ASM, and Keramos (ceramic engineering professional society) and a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). He was a recent recipient of the Arthur L. Friedberg Award from ACerS in 2013 and served as President of the Ceramic Educational Council in 2006-07. For Keramos, he has served as the President National Board of Directors, making him one of only select group of ceramic engineers with the title of “Grand Master Potter." At Missouri S&T, he has received fifteen campus-wide Outstanding Teaching Awards, three Sustained Excellence in Teaching Awards, and eleven Faculty Excellence Awards for his teaching, research, and service.  


2019 (Spring) - Mark Nichols

After receiving his B.S.E. from U-M in 1987, Nichols went on to earn an M.S. from the Univ. of Illinois in 1989, followed by a Ph.D. from U-M in 1992. All his degrees are in MSE. Dr. Nichols joined the Ford Research Laboratory in 1992 to work on the durability of elastomers. His current research is focused on automotive coatings. Topics of particular interest include:  coating weatherability, corrosion, the fracture behavior of coatings and films, color science, and functional surfaces. In addition, Dr. Nichols is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Coatings Technology and Research. Dr. Nichols is the co-author of two books; Mechanical Properties of Coatings, 2nded., and Organic Coatings: Science and Technology, 4thed.; has published over 75 peer-reviewed research papers; and holds 13 U.S. patents. Dr. Nichols was the 2008 recipient of the Henry Ford Technology Award, Ford’s highest technical achievement, for his role in the development and implementation of a 3-wet paint process at Ford. Dr. Nichols has won several external awards from the American Coatings Association including the Industrial Excellence Award, the Roon Award, and the Distinguished Lecturer Award. 


2018 (Fall) - Nikhilesh Chawla

Nikhilesh (Nik) Chawla is director for the Center for 4D Materials Science and is the Fulton Professor of MSE at Arizona State University. He is also a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Prof. Chawla received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from U-M in 1997. He is currently serving as acting chair of the MSE program at ASU. Prior to joining Arizona State University in 2000 he was a postdoctoral fellow jointly at Ford Motor Company and U-M, and a senior development engineer at Hoeganaes Corporation. Prof. Chawla’s research interests encompass the deformation behavior of advanced materials at bulk and small length scales, including Four Dimensional (4D) materials science, environmentally-benign metallic alloys, composite materials, and nanolaminates. He has co-authored over 230 refereed journal publications and close to 470 presentations. He is the author of the textbook Metal Matrix Composites (co-authored with K.K. Chawla). Prof. Chawla is a fellow of ASM International and past member of TMS Board of Directors. His most recent awards include the Acta Materialia Silver Medal for 2017, and New Mexico Tech Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2016. He was named 2016 Structural Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, as well as the 2016 Functional Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, both from TMS. 

Prof. Chawla is editor of Materials Science and Engineering A. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Materials Characterization and Materials Chemistry and Physics. He has served or is serving on several external advisory boards, including that of Naval Research Laboratory, the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, and New Mexico Tech. His work has been featured on the show “Modern Marvels” on the History Channel, R&D News, Fox News, and the Arizona Republic.


2018 (Spring) - Keith J. Bowman

Keith J. Bowman is dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) and Constellation Professor of Information Technology and Engineering at UMBC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Bowman began his academic career as a Purdue University Assistant Professor after receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and a Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering from U-M. He served as a visiting professor and received Alexander von Humboldt stipends for research at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany in 1996 and 2002 and he served as a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia in 2003. He is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and has held several division and society-wide positions. Awards at Purdue University include receiving the MSE Best Teaching Award and Purdue’s highest teaching award, the Charles Murphy Undergraduate Teaching Award. Professor Bowman’s name is also listed in the Purdue Book of Great Teachers.  In 2007, he received the Purdue College of Engineering Mentoring Award and he became the first Professor of Engineering Education (by courtesy) from MSE. From 2007 to 2011 he served as Head of the Purdue School of Materials Engineering. In 2012 he was invested as the first Duchossois Leadership Professor in the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Armour College of Engineering soon after joining as chair of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering. Prior to UMBC he served two years as dean of the College of Science & Engineering at San Francisco State University wherein he led more than four hundred faculty and staff and about six thousand majors.


2017 - Dawn Bonnell

Dawn BonnellDawn Bonnell is the Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania. In this capacity Dr. Bonnell shapes policy and advances administrative initiatives for the University’s $900+ million per year research enterprise. Dr. Bonnell is the Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science. She was the founding director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center that directed $30M to research at the intersections of technology and biology at the nanoscale or molecular level. An editor of seven books and an author of more than 200 papers, Dr. Bonnell was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest honors in the engineering profession, is one of only seven awardees of the Staudinger-Durrer Medal from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and has served as President of the American Vacuum Society and Vice President of the American Ceramics Society. As Vice Provost for Research she is leading Penn’s initiative on innovation and commercialization, which includes the establishment of the Penn Center for Innovation.


2016 - Elizabeth A. Holm

Elizabeth HolmElizabeth A. Holm is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining CMU in 2012, she spent 20 years as a computational materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, working on simulations to improve processes for lighting manufacture, microcircuit aging and reliability, and the processing and welding of advanced materials. Her research areas include the theory and modeling of microstructural evolution, the physical and mechanical response of microstructures, atomic-scale properties of internal interfaces, and the intersection between computer science and materials science. Dr. Holm obtained her B.S.E in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, S.M in Ceramics from MIT, and dual Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering and Scientific Computing from the University of Michigan. Active in professional societies, Dr. Holm has received several honors and awards, is a Fellow of ASM International, 2013 President of The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, an organizer of numerous international conferences, and has been a member of the National Materials Advisory Board. Dr. Holm has authored or co-authored over 120 publications.