The October 10, 2022 passing of Professor Joseph E. (Joe) Greene, emeritus faculty of the Materials Science and Engineering and Physics Departments and former director of the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, brought sadness to his many colleagues, collaborators, students, and friends around the world. A California native, Joe moved to Illinois after earning his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science in 1971. During an illustrious 50-year scientific career, he became a leader in the areas of thin film deposition and crystal growth, surface science, nanotechnology, and materials fabrication and characterization.
Joe’s prolific scientific output included over 600 research and review articles, about 30 book chapters and co-edited books, and hundreds of invited talks and plenary lectures, and he received numerous honors throughout his long and distinguished career. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2003 for “pioneering studies in the synthesis and characterization of epitaxial and highly ordered polycrystalline materials.” He was a University Scholar of the University of Illinois, and a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (AVS), the American Physical Society (APS), and the Materials Research Society (MRS). A selection of his other accolades includes the AVS’s John Thornton Award (1991); an honorary doctorate from Linköping University (1992); SRC’s Technical Excellence Award (1993); the APS’s David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics (1998); SRC’s Aristotle Award (1998); MRS’s David Turnbull Lectureship (1999); the Society of Vacuum Coaters’ Mentor Award (2015) and Nathaniel H. Sugerman Memorial Award (2018); and the R.F. Bunshah Award from AVS’s Advanced Surface Engineering Division (2019). He was the 2016–2017 George Sarton Chair of History of Science Society at Ghent University in Belgium. Joe was honored with the Jan Czochralski Award and gold medal from the European Materials Research Society (2022) just days before his passing.
At the human level, Joe’s work, kindness, support, and mentorship touched the lives of individuals across the globe. He supervised over 60 Ph.D. students, mainly at Illinois but also at Linköping University in Sweden and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, where he held faculty positions. Joe also hosted over 100 visiting scientists and postdoctoral researchers. Most of those individuals also developed brilliant careers, winning scientific awards and contributing to scientific breakthroughs in various areas of technology. Joe’s legacy is vast and will be long-lasting.
Today, thanks to the initiative of Mrs. Phyllis Greene, Joe’s wife of 54 years and an organizer of scientific conferences and outreach events, a seven-figure endowment gift fund has been established. Coordinated by the Materials Research Laboratory at Illinois, the gift will create The Professor Joe Greene Postdoctoral Fellowship to provide financial support to postdoctoral researchers. It will honor both Joe’s scientific achievements and his long interest in supporting the careers of young scientists and emerging leaders in materials science and engineering and related areas of basic science and applied technology.
Several times during his career, Joe expressed his appreciation for Illinois, indicating that it is a place that “gives me the freedom and support to pursue my career passion and try to excel [at] it.”
Details on the application process for The Professor Joe Greene Postdoctoral Fellowship program will be released soon.