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Mark Hersam Named Head of Northwestern University Materials Research Center

Center is the oldest of its kind in the United States

Mark C. Hersam, professor of materials science and engineering and Bette and Neison Harris Chair in Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named director for Northwestern’s Materials Research Center (MRC), the longest running center of its kind in the nation. 

Mark C. HersamHersam succeeds current MRC director Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Olvera de la Cruz for her visionary leadership of the MRC over the past seven years,” said Jay Walsh, vice president for research and professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern. “I am excited that Professor Hersam has accepted this challenging appointment and look forward to working with him further to strengthen Northwestern’s research leadership at the national and international stages.”

As MRC director, Hersam will serve as principal investigator of the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) grant that funds the center. He will lead the exploration of materials research, educate the younger generation of scientists, leverage federal funding with industrial and private support, and disseminate research results.

Hersam studies, develops, and manipulates hybrid hard and soft nanoscale materials for applications in information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and alternative energy. He completed his undergraduate work in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. He received his M.Phil. in physics from the University of Cambridge in 1997 before returning to UIUC for his PhD in electrical engineering in 2000. 

While at Northwestern, he has received several awards, including the Beckman Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and Materials Research Society Outstanding Young Investigator Award.

Hersam directed the Research for Undergraduates (REU) program for Northwestern’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for 12 years and has been named Teacher of the Year six times by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.