Lewis Named Director of Materials Research Laboratory

Jennifer A. Lewis, the Hans Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Willett Faculty Scholar of Engineering at Illinois, has been named director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory (MRL).

Professor Jennifer A. Lewis
Professor Jennifer A. Lewis

“I am very pleased that Professor Lewis has accepted the appointment as director for MRL,” stated Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the College of Engineering. “She has done an exemplary job as interim director, and is eminently qualified to serve as director. Together with our faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers, we will continue to advance MRL’s preeminence in cutting-edge materials research.”

“I am honored to serve in this position, and I am very excited about the future,” Lewis said. “The laboratory has undergone significant change during the past year, and we are well poised to both grow and strengthen the MRL programs.”

An Illinois alumnus, Lewis received a BS with high honors in ceramic engineering. She earned a ScD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and returned to join the U of I faculty in 1990. She currently holds the titles of professor of materials science and engineering and of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and is a faculty affiliate with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Her own research focuses on the self- and directed-assembly of soft functional materials.

As an interdisciplinary laboratory, the MRL houses several multi-investigator programs in the broadly defined areas of computational, nanoscale, quantum, and soft materials. The programs are funded primarily by the Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering through the Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences (DOE/BES).

According to Lewis, the MRL benefits greatly from the participation of faculty and students from the departments of materials science and engineering, physics, chemistry, chemical and biomolecular engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical science and engineering, and nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering. Funded research projects currently support about 35 faculty researchers and upwards of 70 graduate students and 20 postdoctoral researchers.

“Together, we are transforming fundamental scientific discoveries into technological advances in the areas of photonics, flexible electronics, superconductor devices, and energy materials such as catalysts, fuel cells, and photovoltaics,” Lewis added.

The MRL also operates central facilities for materials fabrication and characterization in support of its research programs. These facilities are supported in part by DOE/BES, and include the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, the Laser and Spectroscopy Facility, the Micro/Nanofabrication Facility, and the Computer Facility. Collectively, they are recognized as amongst the finest mid-scale facilities in the nation.