JC Zhao Elected to National Academy of Engineering (NAE)

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Ji-Cheng ‘JC’ Zhao, Minta Martin Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Department at the University of Maryland (UMD), has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) – one of the highest distinctions accorded to an engineer. The NAE recognized Zhao for his contributions to computational alloy design, integrated computational materials engineering, and high-throughput methods used in industrial products.

“I congratulate Professor Zhao for his election to NAE,” said UMD President Dr. Darryll Pines who was elected to NAE in 2019. “The UMD and Clark School community is proud of his achievement.  This has been a stellar academic year for Dr. Zhao.  JC is not only a stellar scholar, evidenced by his recent election to both NAE and the National Academy of Inventors and being recognized as an AAAS Fellow, he is also an inspiring academic leader who has injected new energy into our MSE Department.” 

The dean of the Clark School, Samuel Graham, Jr., praised Zhao’s achievements and underscored their contribution to Maryland Engineering’s reputation.

“We’re excited that NAE has recognized JC’s contributions to Materials Science and Engineering and the innovations from his work which have been consistent across his career from industry to academia. The fact that his peers elected him speaks to the broad recognition of his leadership and impact,” Graham said. “We’re fortunate to have JC in the Clark School and look forward to him leading research initiatives that will continue to influence the future of Materials Science.”

Zhao pioneered the development of the diffusion-multiple approach for high-throughput research and development of metal alloys. He is also a renowned expert on the computational design of materials with expertise in very high-temperature alloys and coatings for jet engines and electricity-generation gas turbines. Zhao is an inventor of 49 U.S. patents with substantial real-world deployment. He was the 2001 recipient of the prestigious Albert W. Hull Award from GE Research Center “for his leadership skills in advancing innovative, state-of-the-art development methodologies that aim to decrease cycle time for materials discovery while increasing the robustness of the work. He was also recognized for his expertise and leadership regarding the critical nature of coatings and high temperature materials, and for his enormous energy and perseverance in solving real business challenges.”  Zhao is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ASM International, the Materials Research Society (MRS), the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). He was the 2021 recipient of the TMS William Hume-Rothery Award, presented annually to recognize a scientific leader for exceptional scholarly contributions to the science of alloys. Zhao also received a 2022 Humboldt Research Award and is slated to receive the 2023 J. Willard Gibbs Phase Equilibria Award from ASM International.

“NAE is certainly the highest honor for me,” Said Zhao. “I am extremely grateful to my students, collaborators, and colleagues who made significant technical contributions as well as my mentors who guided me through my professional career over the years. I am also very grateful to my wife of 32 years for her strong support.” 

Zhao, Rama Chellappa, and Inderjit Chopra are three new Class 2023 NAE members from UMD. Twenty-nine former NAE members at UMD include George E. Dieter, Robert E. Fischell, C. Dan Mote, Jr., and Darryll J. Pines.

“It is incredibly gratifying to join the ranks of many professional heroes whom I admired since the start of my career. While savoring the moment, I am also very conscious of the fact that I can easily count a dozen professional colleagues who are more deserving”, Said Zhao. “This great honor inspires me to work hard as an engineer to make more real-world impact and help overcome the grand challenges of our society to deserve this incredible honor”.

Published February 9, 2023