Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Chan named department chair of materials science and engineering

Helen M. Chan

Helen M. Chan, the New Jersey Zinc Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been named chair of her department, effective July 1.

The appointment was announced by S. David Wu, Iacocca professor and dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Chan will succeed G. Slade Cargill, the Sherman Fairchild Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, who has served as department chair since 2000.

She is the first woman in Lehigh’s history to be appointed permanent chair of an engineering department. Chan is the author of more than 150 published journal articles and is included in Thomson ISI’s list of highly cited researchers in materials.

She has received numerous honors for her research and teaching. In 2005, she was elected a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) for achievements in education and research in the field of ceramics. She has also received the society’s Roland B. Snow Award on five separate occasions. The award is given to the winners of the society’s annual Ceramographic Competition, which promotes the use of micrographs and microanalysis in ceramic research.

Also in 2005, Chan received Lehigh’s 2005 Eleanor and Joseph F. Libsch Award for excellence in research.

Chan received the Bradley Stoughton Award from ASM International, the world’s premiere organization for materials scientists and engineers back in 1992. The award is given annually to an outstanding young professor in the field.

In 1990, Chan received the Alfred Noble Robinson Award from Lehigh for outstanding performance and unusual promise of professional achievement. She received the university’s Service Teaching Excellence Award in 1991 and 1992; the Class of 1961 Professorship distinction in teaching, research and service in 1993; and the New Jersey Zinc Professorship in 1999.

In 1986 and 1987, Chan was invited to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she worked in the Mechanical Properties Group of the Ceramics Division.

Chan’s research interests encompass the reactive processing of materials. An example of this is the processing of metallic foams from ceramic foam precursors, which has been successfully used to fabricate iron-based foams.

Another application in this general area is the modification of the surface morphology of sapphire (single crystal aluminum oxide) by nanopatterning a surface layer of metallic aluminum, which is subsequently oxidized and converted to sapphire. Chan is also actively involved in research on the role of dopants and interfacial chemistry in diffusion limited processes in ceramics.

Chan was appointed to the Lehigh faculty in 1986. She holds a B.Sc. First Class Honors degree in materials science from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of London, where she received the Governors’ Prize for most outstanding graduate in materials science. She also holds a Ph.D. and D.I.C. in materials science and technology from Imperial.

--Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Thursday, June 01, 2006

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