About MRS

Catherine Dubourdieu

Freie Universität Berlin and Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Candidate for Board of Directors

Catherine Dubourdieu

Catherine Dubourdieu is a full professor at Freie Universität Berlin (Physical Chemistry) and the Head of the Institute "Functional oxides for energy efficient information technology" at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB). She is also involved in establishing the Helmholtz Energy Materials Foundry. Her research interest lies at the interface between materials science, solid state physics and nanotechnologies. Her current research interests include the growth and investigation of functional oxides, ferroelectricity at the nanoscale, heteroepitaxy and interfaces on semiconductors and oxide integration into CMOS-compatible devices.

She earned an engineer diploma and a MSc degree from Grenoble Institute of Technology in 1992 and a PhD degree in physics from University Grenoble Alpes in 1995. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, she held a permanent position at CNRS from 1997 to 2016. She co-founded the European School on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ESONN) in Grenoble and served as its adjunct director until 2006. In 2009, she joined the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights (NY, USA) as a visiting scientist for three years in the Silicon Technology Department. Back in France, she co-founded and directed, from 2013 to 2016, the CNRS research network dedicated to functional oxides, gathering more than 650 scientists from 50 laboratories and 10 companies, favoring multi and inter-disciplinary research in a common arena. In the past 15 years, she has also developed several long-term collaborations with industries and directed for three years a joint laboratory between CNRS/Ecole Centrale de Lyon and a SME. In 2015, she was nominated for two years by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a member of the Industrial Research Committee of the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR/CEFIPRA). In April 2016, she moved to HZB in Germany within the Helmholtz recruiting initiative, and is currently establishing a new Institute within the research program “Future Information Technology”. She has over 140 publications, 50 invited talks at international conferences and hold 10 patents. She was the recipient of an IBM Faculty Award in 2014.  She is a member of the MRS, E-MRS, APS, IEEE, DPG, GDCh, SFP, and SCF societies.

Catherine Dubourdieu has been active in MRS throughout her professional career since 1997 as well as in the E-MRS. She has organized several symposia, delivered invited talks at their conferences, and participate to volunteer activities. She was a member of the E-MRS Board of Delegates from 2013 to 2016 and she is currently an elected member of the E-MRS Executive Committee since 2017. In 2018, she was a co-chair of the MRS Spring meeting in Phoenix and she will be one of the Chair of the E-MRS Spring meeting in 2020.

Candidate's Statement

I joined the MRS in 1997 when I was a postdoc in the US. Over the past 22 years, at the various stages of my scientific path, I kept feeling “at home” in this society. I attend every year or so the Spring or Fall meetings where I benefit not only from the excellence of symposia related to my research but also from the multidisciplinary and broad spectrum of topics. My students and myself had the opportunity to connect with many outstanding scientists from all over the world. I particularly remember a Women in Materials Science & Engineering breakfast during which Mildred Dresselhaus was sharing with us personal stories. In the past years, as a volunteer, symposium organizer and co-chair of the 2018 MRS Spring Meeting, I had the chance to actively contribute to the society.

Science and technology shape our daily life. It is crucial that the MRS maintains its position as a leading organization of materials researchers worldwide and further build on promoting excellence and innovation. Thousands of professionals at various stages of their careers feel at home and can connect across borders, disciplines and technological applications. As a Board member, I would be thrilled to be more directly involved in charting the future of MRS and contribute to the development of its strategic objectives. I am particularly interested in devoting efforts and time in the following aspects:

- Promote diversity and inclusion - Enhance the MRS Community through expanding membership and worldwide networking. I am convinced that diversity drives excellence and innovation, and that it promotes inclusion, eventually determining the face of an organization. In many conferences across various disciplines, it is still a challenge to have a reasonable ratio of women as keynote/invited speakers or as co-organizers. The MRS is doing an outstanding proactive work on this matter as well as in promoting the inclusion of under-represented geographic regions and minorities. The members of the Board play a critical role in determining the leadership and further expand this action. We could e.g. increase the number of invitations and nominations of well-deserved, under-represented minorities. Participating in mentoring programs is also an efficient way to promote, in a long term, the diversity within the society.


Regarding expanding membership, there is a broad spectrum of career paths for material scientists and engineers, not only in academia, but also in industry, government, public or private institutions or organizations. Hence, the society should continue to support all types of career paths through e.g. webminars, forum or dedicated networking opportunities in order to retain these different stake-holders and capitalize on their diversity. Having worked in different places in US and Europe, I would like to help strengthening existing and developing new international links for the MRS and engage also in actions targeting an increased number of European industry members.


- Expand as the Materials Gateway for global communication and knowledge dissemination.  A key role of the society is the dissemination of scientific knowledge to a diverse and broad community through its Spring and Fall meetings as well as via other co-sponsored conferences, webminars, or its publications. As new fields emerge where materials are key players (e.g. quantum computing…) or where they can benefit from other discipline (e.g. artificial intelligence to discover new materials), it is crucial to offer adequate topical symposia that reflect this fast evolution. The role of the society is also to pro-actively trigger networking opportunities allowing building new communities. Finally, as scientists, we carry a high responsibility to promote fact-based communication with the highest level of integrity and this is the role of the society to be active on this issue.
Proactively Foster Materials Solutions to improve the quality of life. Materials science has a key role to play in major challenges related to Energy, Climate, Sustainability or Health and has a direct impact on various aspects of human life. I believe that this is the role of the members of the Board to advocate materials science to a large audience, promote interdisciplinary research and foster technological applications. Here again, better engaging industry within the MRS is one approach to fostering materials solutions.

If elected, I will be thrilled to work for the benefit of a diverse membership of materials scientist and engineers and to actively and enthusiastically serve and chart the future of the MRS.