Elizabeth Dickey, a leading researcher in the field of materials science and engineering, has been named head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University effective January 2021. Dickey will succeed Greg Rohrer, the W.W. Mullins Professor of MSE who has served as the department’s head since 2005. Rohrer will return to CMU’s faculty at the end of this year.
Dickey will join the CMU community after spending 10 years at North Carolina State University (NCSU). In 2011, she joined as a professor of materials science and engineering before advancing to her most recent positions, Associate Department Head and Distinguished Professor in the NCSU’s Department of MSE.
With more than 150 peer-reviewed research publications that have collected nearly 20,000 citations, Dickey has focused her research to understand functionality of material systems in which the physical properties of materials—such as their mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties—are governed by interfaces within the materials—such as the interface between grains in polycrystalline materials. Her work has applications in industries ranging from energy storage and management to energy harvesting.
“Elizabeth is a stellar researcher in her own right, but also has demonstrated leadership skills both academically and as a leader of large research facilities,” said Bill Sanders, Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering.
Prior to her tenure at NCSU, Dickey spent nine years at Pennsylvania State University, where she served as associate director of the Materials Research Institute, a multidisciplinary research center that supported more than 200 faculty and their students, and as director of the Materials Characterization Laboratory, a state-of-the-art analytical facility that facilitates research and education for the development of the next generation of materials science researchers.
Dickey brought the model of the Materials Characterization Laboratory to NCSU to help transition the NCSU Analytical Instrumentation Facility through a reorganization in 2011. After joining NCSU, she also founded the Center for Dielectrics and Piezoelectrics, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center in collaboration with Penn State University and the University of Sheffield. The center has grown to approximately 30 member companies and laboratories from the US, Europe, and Asia, including start-ups to billion-dollar global companies.
She is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and of the Microscopy Society of America. Her successes have earned her the Richard M. Fulrath Award from the American Ceramic Society, the Northwestern University Early Career Achievement Award for Alumni in MSE, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and induction into the World Academy of Ceramics.
Dickey received her Ph.D. in MSE from Northwestern University and her B.S. in Materials Engineering from the University of Kentucky.