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Takao Someya, University of Tokyo

Candidate for MRS Vice President

Takao Someya

Takao Someya is serving as Dean of School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, where he has been Professor since 2009. He conducted research as Visiting Scientist at Columbia University and Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies (2001–2002). He held additional positions as Global Scholar at Princeton University, Hans Fischer Senior Fellow at the Technical University of Munich, and GlobalFoundaries Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore. He has also been Chief Scientist and Team Leader at RIKEN since 2015.

Someya contributed to the very early stages of stretchable electronics. His group has gained recognition for inventing the world’s first stretchable, large-area, multi-point, multi-modal sensor driven by an organic active matrix. The unique stretchable sensor, referred to as artificial electronic skin, introduced human-like skin sensitivities to robots, developing into elastic conductors with the world’s highest conductivity. Besides robotics applications, stretchable sensors can be directly attached to the human skin and used as stress-free sensor systems that detect biological information. His research has been published in 277 peer-reviewed journals including 7 in Science, 4 in Nature, 30 in their sister journals, and 10 in PNAS. He has delivered 53 plenary lectures and 255 invited talks at international conferences, including 45 invited talks at MRS.

He has more than 500 media coverage including those by CNN, BBC, Washington Post, and New York Times, and his electronic skin was featured on the cover of the November 21st issue of Time Magazine as one of the “Best Inventions of 2005”. Someya actively promoted social implementation of his research results by establishing two startups. He served as Principal Investigator of NEDO project (JPY 9.7B), JST/ERATO (JPY 2B), and JST/ACCEL (JPY 1.5B). His awards include the 16th Leo Esaki Prize (2019), 2009 IEEE/EDS Paul Rappaport Award, and Highly Cited Researchers (2014, 2018, 2019).

MRS has been his home society: He served as member of the Board of Directors (2009–2011), Meeting Chair of 2018 Fall Meeting, Chair of 2013 JSAP-MRS Joint Symposia, member of the Program Development Subcommittee (2013–2017) and the Government Affairs Committee (2014–2018), and Symposium Organizer 7 times.

Candidate's Statement

Materials innovation is expected to fundamentally change the world by overcoming global challenges. The role of MRS has never been greater, and I believe in our capability to fulfill such expectations by addressing the following four points:

1. Return to our origins: The top priority is maximizing the quality of Spring/Fall Meetings, as they have been severely affected by the pandemic. Thus, the unforgettable experience as basically face-to-face Meetings will be provided where the best and latest results of materials research are reported with full excitement. An extended range of tutorials will be offered for young researchers and participants from different fields. In my experience, spontaneous discussions and networking in and around the conference venue can inspire new ideas. Therefore, attention will be given when planning the locations of Meetings. In program development, care will be taken to avoid the duplication of topics while doors remain open for incorporating new research. Twenty years ago, when my research on stretchable electronics began, MRS was the most accommodating society for an unproven field. This nature of MRS offers an inclusive environment which is the basis for the creation of materials innovation that can contribute to a better society.

2. Digital enhancement: Distribution of information will become easier with digital enhancement and dramatically increase opportunities for materials innovation. For example, something as simple as posting a one-minute promotional video of a poster session can stimulate curiosity even before setting off to the Meeting and become an excellent service for members who cannot be present. Digital enhancement will also produce synergies among publications, meetings, and other services for members. Digital teaching tools for future materials researchers will support further growth in the field. Improving service to members and society through digital means that guarantee wider access will lead to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the materials sector.

3. Promoting the fusion of disciplines: Emphasis will be placed on strategically strengthening the fusion between the field of materials and other disciplines. MRS has enhanced key areas of materials including environment, energy, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. This will continue with the addition of strategic integration with the field of information. For example, quantum computing and AI have extended their roles in the search for materials. MRS will aggressively incorporate researchers in the emerging interdisciplinary fields and foster them in its community. In addition, MRS will take on a leadership role in creating an international framework and rules for the revitalization of the materials informatics field and the utilization of data. These efforts will accelerate materials innovation and contribute to solving social issues, improving quality of life.

4. Strengthening cooperation: Since research in the materials field has a long lifespan, the role of academia, compatible with long term research, is significant and advantageous for MRS which has many members in academia. At the same time, a mechanism to quickly transfer innovative material-related research results from the lab to the fab is in high demand. Thus, MRS will offer the best opportunity where cutting-edge materials research and business meet with a clear objective to promote further growth of existing industry sectors as well as to create a materials sector-specific startup ecosystem. Moreover, MRS will contribute to the development of materials research in all regions of the world through global collaboration by effectively utilizing online resources.

Empowering the outstanding MRS staff and dedicated volunteers, gaining the support and understanding of members, and steadily implementing these four points will expand our stakeholders and the community of MRS around the world, significantly increasing its diversity and volume of membership. The strengthened financial base can then be used for investment in the future, including in young researchers and new research fields. As a result, MRS’s visions will be realized, and our presence as a group of professional researchers will increase globally, improving the world through materials research.