The Department of Materials Science and Engineering has created two new professorships in honor of Professor Emeritus Merton C. Flemings, recognizing his ties to the department as student and faculty member for more than 50 years.
The Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professorship and the Merton C. Flemings Career Development Chair were established following a two-year fund-raising effort, highlighted by a major contribution from Toyota Corp. and funding from MIT through the Singapore-MIT Alliance, as well as donations from friends and alumni of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE).
Flemings is a DMSE alumnus (S.B. 1951, S.M. 1952 and Sc.D. 1954, all in metallurgy). He joined MIT's faculty in 1954. He established and was the first director of the Materials Processing Center at MIT in 1979, served as department head from 1989-95, and was co-director at MIT of the Singapore-MIT Alliance. He is currently director of the MIT-Lemelson Program.
Flemings is widely recognized for major contributions to the scientific understanding of solidification, a process important to the quality of many materials from steel to semiconductors.
The Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professorship will be administered through the School of Engineering and will be held by a senior member of the DMSE faculty.
Professor Eugene A. Fitzgerald will be the first Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor. Fitzgerald researches performance-limiting factors in electronic materials and devices, particularly factors created by imperfections in materials such as point, line and planar defects. Fitzgerald earned the S.B. from MIT in 1985 and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1987 and 1989, respectively. He joined the MIT faculty as an associate professor in 1994, received tenure in 1998 and was made a full professor in 2000.
The Merton C. Flemings Career Development Chair will be directly administered by DMSE and, while efforts will be made to continue to add to its endowment, funding is sufficient to launch it now.
Caroline A. Ross will be the first Merton C. Flemings Career Development Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Ross performs research in the magnetic properties of thin films and small structures, particularly for data storage applications. Ross received the B.A. in 1985 and the Ph.D. in 1988 from Cambridge University. She joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1997, was promoted to associate professor in 2000 and received tenure in 2001.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 11, 2002.