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Ian Robertson

Dean Ian Robertson honored with TMS symposium

Written By: Jason Daley


The materials science society TMS celebrated the career of Ian Robertson, Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, with an honorary symposium at its 2022 annual meeting in Anaheim, California, in early March 2022. In addition to regular programming, TMS hosts highly selective honorary symposia organized to recognize distinguished members of the minerals, metals and materials community.

Ian Robertson

Robertson, a native of Scotland, earned a doctorate in metallurgy from Oxford University in 1982. He joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1983, where he spent more than 25 years, serving as department head from 2003 to 2009. After serving as the director of the Division of Materials Research for the National Science Foundation from 2011 to 2013, Robertson became dean of the UW-Madison College of Engineering as well as a professor in materials science and engineering, positions he currently holds.

While Robertson’s work as a leader and administrator is significant, the symposium celebrated his equally influential work as a researcher studying materials response under extreme conditions. In particular, Robertson has pioneered a range of in situ transmission electron microscopy techniques to better understand the physical mechanisms governing plasticity, material degradation and failure in materials.

Research conducted in his labs has led to the development, refinement and validation of many theories and theoretical models, including the hydrogen-enhanced localized plasticity mechanism. His work coupling transmission electron microscopy with advanced theory and simulation has been widely applied to complex materials and environments.
Speakers at the symposium covered a range of topics, including advances in in-situ transmission electron microscopy, hydrogen embrittlement mechanisms, stress corrosion cracking and other topics in environmental degradation and mechanical response.
Organizers of the event include many of Robertson’s accomplished former PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and research associates, including Kaila Morgen Bertsch, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Khalid Hattar, Sandia National Laboratories; Josh Kacher, Georgia Institute of Technology; Bai Cui, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Benjamin P. Eftink, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Stephen D. House, University of Pittsburgh; May L. Martin, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Kelly E. Nygren, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source; Blythe Gore Clark, Sandia National Laboratories; and Shuai Wang, Southern University of Science and Technology.