Prof. Ray Phaneuf Appointed Acting Chair of Materials Science and Engineering

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Left: Professor Raymond J. Phaneuf. Right: Professor Robert M. Briber.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland (UMD) extend their thanks and congratulations to Professor Robert M. Briber, MSE's department chair, who will transition to his new role as the Clark School’s Associate Dean for Research on July 1, 2015. MSE’s Professor Raymond J. Phaneuf succeeds Briber as Acting Chair of MSE, while Professor Ichiro Takeuchi has become MSE's Graduate Program Director.

“While Dr. Briber's stewardship of the department will be a difficult act to follow, I am delighted to have Dr. Phaneuf take on the challenge to lead the department to even greater national and international prominence,” Dean Darryll Pines wrote in a recent announcement.

Over the course of Briber’s 12 years as Chair, MSE welcomed seven new faculty members, increased its undergraduate enrollment increased by more than 250%, more than doubled its research expenditures, improved its laboratory facilities, and saw its graduate program reach the top 25 in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings. Throughout, Briber not only maintained one of the most active research programs in the Clark School, but also participated in the department’s outreach efforts, as well as designed and taught one of the university’s first  Marquee Courses in Science and Technology for non-majors. He was named a Distinguished Scholar Teacher in 2012.

“I want to thank everyone for the past 12 years of our working together to build a world-class MSE department,” says Briber. “In addition to the incredible growth of our student body and research programs, we have created a unified department with a vision and a supportive environment for education and research. I plan to stay engaged with the department and will continue to help out, but I am also looking forward to expanding the research portfolio for the Clark School and bringing new exciting initiatives to campus.”

Like Briber, Phaneuf is committed to promoting the field of materials science and engineering, which despite its broad and fundamental applications is often unknown to prospective students. In addition to serving as MSE’s undergraduate and graduate program director, he is the founding director of UMD’s Interdisciplinary Minor in Nanoscience and Technology. He was also a founding member of UMD’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), which for 17 years offered educational programs and outreach activities at the K-12, pre-college, and college levels.

Phaneuf is enthusiastic about his new role and sees a bright future for both the department and the field.

“It’s an exciting time to be active in materials science and engineering,” he says. “Many of the Grand Challenges facing society are materials related. Thanks to the efforts of our talented faculty and students, our dedicated staff, and Rob’s vision and commitment, our department is on a very successful trajectory. My goal as Interim Chair is to keep our department growing, and to increase our presence in strategic areas including energy, computational materials science, and technology for sustainability.”

About Professor Briber
Professor Robert M. Briber earned his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1984, and joined the University of Maryland in 1992. He has been the director of the university’s High Resolution Neutron Scattering Research Program for the past 20 years and is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of materials science with a specialization in the physics of polymers and the characterization of soft materials. He is a Past President of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Neutron Scattering Society of America, a recipient of the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal, and a former editor of the Journal of Polymer Science.

About Professor Phaneuf
Professor Raymond J. Phaneuf earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1985, and joined UMD’s Department of Physics the same year. There, he used electron diffraction to study phase transformations on stepped Si(111) surfaces, resulting in the identification of a thermodynamically driven faceting associated with the formation of the (7x7) reconstruction. In 1989 he visited Ernst Bauer’s group in Clausthal, Germany, using low energy electron microscopy (LEEM) to image this faceting in real time. In 2000 he joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and began studies of directed self-organization during growth and sublimation on semiconductor surfaces, using lithographic patterning. In 2006, he was a visiting professor at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory in Lecce, Italy. He is the author of more than 80 papers in archival journals, and has given over 40 invited talks on his work in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He was named the Laboratory for Physical Sciences Faculty Researcher of the year in 2002. In addition to MSE, he holds affiliate positions in the Departments of Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering. His current research is in the fields of directing self-assembly of nanostructures at the mesoscale, plasmonics, and the application of nanotechnology to the conservation of cultural heritage.

Published July 1, 2015