About MRS

Eric A. Stach, University of Pennsylvania
Candidate for Secretary

Eric A. Stach

Eric A. Stach is currently a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

He received his PhD degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia in 1998. A significant portion of this work was conducted at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, through the support of an IBM Cooperative Fellowship.  Thereafter, he joined the National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a staff scientist and became the Program Leader for the Metals Program in 2003. In 2004, he joined the School of Materials Engineering at Purdue University as an associate professor and as Scientific Director for the Birck Nanotechnology Center’s electron microscopy lab. At Purdue, he was recognized with undergraduate teaching and Early Career Research Excellence awards, by appointment as a University Faculty Scholar, and promotion to full professor in 2010. Thereafter he was a group leader for the Electron Microscopy Group at the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a Department of Energy National User Facility, until his move to Penn in 2017. Stach is also the Chief Technology Officer for Hummingbird Scientific, which he co-founded in 2004. This company produces advanced instrumentation for electron and ion microscopy, and presently employs 20 scientists, engineers and manufacturing specialists.

The MRS has been Stach’s primary professional society since his graduate studies (Silver Award winner, Spring 1997), and he has attended nearly every meeting since Fall 1996. He has organized a number of different symposia over the years (regarding heteroepitaxial growth, electron microscopy, mechanical properties and nanostructure synthesis), edited a volume for the MRS Bulletin on in-situ microscopy, and was a co-chair for the 2012 MRS Fall Meeting. He also served on the MRS Board of Directors from 2013-2015, and is presently Board Secretary (2017-2019). His company has been an exhibitor at the MRS meetings for over a decade as well.

Stach’s research efforts focus on the development and application of electron microscopy techniques in a broad class of materials research, with the common approach being the exploitation of real-time imaging methods to provide quantitative data regarding materials phenomena.  These efforts have focused on such diverse topics as thin film strain relaxation and grain growth, nanoindentation, carbon nanotube and semiconductor nanowire nucleation and growth, novel carbon structures, nanocrystal synthesis for photovoltaics, understanding energy storage materials and fundamental catalysis studies.  He has published of order 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and given many invited presentations at academic, government and industrial laboratories.

Candidate's Statement

It is an honor to be asked to stand for a second term as MRS Secretary.  It is a critical role in the operation of the Board of Directors, and thus the overall management of the society. 

I know when I vote for these sort of things, I always ask myself “Secretary? What is that all about? Why do they need a scientist to be a secretary?” From my prior experience on the Board (Member, 2013-2015, Secretary, 2017-2019), I have a strong understanding of the roles of this position and their importance. I’d like to describe how I see them, as well as how I plan to continue to fill those duties to better the Society if elected for a second term.

Firstly, the Secretary is primarily responsible for making sure that the actions of the Board follow the procedures established by the Society.  This means knowing and enforcing the rules of order for the Board meetings, as well as those that govern how the various Board committees as they exercise their function.  The Secretary is also charged with making sure that these rules are kept up to date and are clear, and also with coordinating rule changes as appropriate in order to streamline its operation.  This may seem trivial on first glance, but it is in fact quite important – the Board of Directors meets only two to three times a year to make a wide range of decisions. The Secretary performs an important role in making sure that these meetings are efficient and productive.

Secondly, the Secretary serves a three-year term as a member of the Governance Committee – the Governance Committee is composed of the Past President, President and Vice President, the Treasurer and Secretary, the Executive Director and the head of the Planning Committee.  The Governance Committee sets the agenda for the Board meetings, as well as the charges to the individual committees for their yearly activities. Furthermore, it works closely with the Executive Director (as a full-time employee of the Society) to help guide him in his management of the MRS Headquarters and its activities.   During the course of this three-year term, nearly all of the elected members of this committee save Vice-President rotate onto and off of the committee.  Thus, the Secretary has an important role in helping to maintain continuity in the Board’s vision and direction, and to be a historical memory of both why and how certain prior decisions were made.  Based on my significant service on the Board – including as a member of the Finance Committee (2014-15) and head of the Planning Committee / Member of the Governance Committee (2016) and as head of the Operations, Oversight and Audit Committee (2017-2019) – I have contributed significantly to a number of major Board activities, and I have a fresh memory of the issues that the Board has been considering over past years.  Thus, I can provide this historical perspective to the Governance Committee in the upcoming three years. I think this is important.

Finally, while the MRS is a vibrant, healthy and successful society, it will be seeing big changes in the years ahead, each of which will bring new challenges.  These include venue changes for the Spring Meeting, keeping pace with transformative changes in scientific journal publishing, continued work to differentiate the Spring and Fall Meeting content (a Task Force that I led), and perhaps even changes to our governance structure (under discussion). Each of these has significant historical background associated with the decisions of prior Board incarnations.

I care deeply about the MRS and its mission to ‘advance interdisciplinary materials research and technology’. I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve you in this role.