Distinguished Alumni Lecture

The Materials Science and Engineering Department Distinguished Alumni Lecture is an award to recognize alumni who have made seminal contribution to materials research, as evident by published scholarship, patents/technology transfer, mentoring of early career materials researchers and service to the materials profession. The award recipients will be mid-to-late career researchers in academia, government or industrial R&D.


The alum to be recognized will be selected by the department chair based on nominations from the MSE faculty.

The awardee will be the department’s invited guest of honor on the day of the annual graduation dinner in Spring. The lecture will be presented during the day as a graduate seminar followed by lunch with the graduate students and one-on-one meetings with select faculty. In the evening, the award will be presented at the graduation dinner followed by brief remarks by the distinguished alum to the graduating senior.


2017 - Dawn Bonnell

Dawn BonnellDawn Bonnell is the Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania. In this capacity Dr. Bonnell shapes policy and advances administrative initiatives for the University’s $900+ million per year research enterprise. Dr. Bonnell is the Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science. She was the founding director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center that directed $30M to research at the intersections of technology and biology at the nanoscale or molecular level. An editor of seven books and an author of more than 200 papers, Dr. Bonnell was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest honors in the engineering profession, is one of only seven awardees of the Staudinger-Durrer Medal from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and has served as President of the American Vacuum Society and Vice President of the American Ceramics Society. As Vice Provost for Research she is leading Penn’s initiative on innovation and commercialization, which includes the establishment of the Penn Center for Innovation.


2016 - Elizabeth A. Holm

Elizabeth HolmElizabeth A. Holm is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining CMU in 2012, she spent 20 years as a computational materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, working on simulations to improve processes for lighting manufacture, microcircuit aging and reliability, and the processing and welding of advanced materials. Her research areas include the theory and modeling of microstructural evolution, the physical and mechanical response of microstructures, atomic-scale properties of internal interfaces, and the intersection between computer science and materials science. Dr. Holm obtained her B.S.E in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, S.M in Ceramics from MIT, and dual Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering and Scientific Computing from the University of Michigan. Active in professional societies, Dr. Holm has received several honors and awards, is a Fellow of ASM International, 2013 President of The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, an organizer of numerous international conferences, and has been a member of the National Materials Advisory Board. Dr. Holm has authored or co-authored over 120 publications.