MRI's Strategic PLan

Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey has named noted Penn State electroceramics scientist Clive Randall as the new director of the Penn State Materials Research Institute, effective March 1, 2015. After serving as interim director since September, Randall, who is a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, becomes only the second MRI director in the institute’s 16-year history.

Vice President Sharkey said this about Randall’s appointment: "I am absolutely thrilled with Professor Randall's decision to become the permanent director of MRI. Clive's impressive research credentials, his intellectual firepower, and his practical management skills will surely serve him well in this new capacity. Adding to Clive's stellar academic record is his intimate knowledge of the Materials Research Institute and its many faculty. He has already done a phenomenal job of grabbing the reigns in his short time as interim director, leaving no doubt that he will effectively build upon the solid foundation laid by his predecessor Carlo Pantano. We are most fortunate to have landed a director who will continue to ensure that Penn State maintains its leadership in materials science."

The Materials Research Institute undertakes world-class interdisciplinary scientific and engineering research with global impact. MRI cuts across the boundaries of traditional fields of study to push research at the leading edge of emerging fields. With more than 250 materials-related faculty across multiple science and engineering disciplines, Penn State has been ranked by the National Science Foundation as the nation’s leading materials research institution based on annual expenditures. MRI provides state-of-the-art characterization and nanofabrication facilities for the research community and hands-on training to thousands of students.

“It has been an honor to serve as MRI’s interim director, and I look forward to engaging with the university administration in a way that enables MRI to make real progress on our strategic goals,” Randall said. “I want to thank Carlo Pantano for leaving this institution well prepared to meet those goals.”


By partnering with the College of Medicine, the Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences, Randall plans to increase interactions at the intersection of the life sciences and materials research, for example, by developing new devices for early diagnostics and therapeutics of diseases and also applying advanced materials characterization imaging techniques to the study and processing of biological materials. Along with the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, and the colleges, he plans to advance the transition of Penn State’s expertise in electronics, energy, and photonics to industrial partners. And with the creation of MRI’s new Materials Computation Center under the leadership of Adri van Duin, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Randall intends to make a computation and modeling component more available to materials researchers on campus to aid characterization and processing. His long-term goal is to apply a materials science philosophy to the cause of global humanitarian engineering and social entrepreneurship to benefit society.

In his announcement, Sharkey noted that “Dr. Randall has authored/co-authored over 330 technical papers, with over 10,000 citations. He also holds 13 patents (with 3 pending) in the field of electroceramics. He was Director for the Center for Dielectric Studies between 1997 and 2013, and in 2014 formed a new Center as Co-Director, the Center for Dielectrics and Piezoelectrics. Clive received a B.Sc. with Honors in Physics in 1983 from the University of East Anglia, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from the University of Essex in 1987.”

Adri van DuinVan Duin Named Director of New Computation Center in the Materials Research Institute

Adri van Duin, associate professor of mechanical engineering , has been named the director of the newly created Materials Computation Center (MCC) in the Penn State Materials Research Institute. Van Duin is best known as the inventor of the ReaxFF reactive force field method. The goal of the new center is to help make computational methods available to experimentalists both in the university community and in industry.

“I want to make sure that our theory capability is more visible to the university and the outside world,” van Duin said. “In the long run, I want the MCC to be as integrated into research as the Nanofabrication Laboratory and the Materials Characterization Lab are now.”

A new MCC website is now available to connect researchers with potential collaborators in several modeling and simulation techniques. The website will allow visitors to interact with MCC, discover the available materials computation methods, and learn about the work of Penn State’s active community of theorists and modelers.

Clive Randall, the new director of the Materials Research Institute, has made the MCC and the “three labs, one solution” concept an integral part of MRI’s strategy for future research excellence and for a unified approach to industry needs.

Adri van Duin: