For Tresa Pollock, 3 Major Honors from Materials Society

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

UCSB Alcoa Professor of Materials, Tresa M. Pollock, has been honored with three separate awards from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) — two for outstanding long-term contributions to the field of materials science and one for service to the professional society.

“I am deeply honored that my materials colleagues have nominated me for these awards,” Pollock said. “They are the culmination of many productive and exciting collaborative research programs, and they reflect on the outstanding graduate students that I have worked with through the years.”

“We at the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering are well aware of Tresa Pollock’s innovative and important research in both the fundamental science and the applied engineering of materials,” said CoE dean, Rod Alferness, “so I’m both thrilled and proud to see her receive these important awards from the professional society made up of colleagues who know her work best. We are privileged indeed to have Tresa as a professional colleague, as are the graduate students who benefit from her mentorship.”

“These awards are given to top people who are at the pinnacle of their field,” said fellow UCSB College of Engineering materials professor Carlos Levi, who has collaborated with Pollock for some twenty years. “Tresa is arguably the metallurgist with the highest visibility in the world.”

When Levi first met Pollock at Carnegie Mellon University, he recalls, “She already had a reputation as an excellent scientist. She impressed me as someone who was enthusiastic about her field and very energetic. She had good ideas and was obviously on the rise. Everybody thought highly of her.”

And with good reason, he adds. “She's the real thing. A lot of people are good at selling themselves, but there may not be a lot of substance underneath. Tresa has the substance, plus the ability to promote her ideas and bring people together to work on large-impact problems. Metallurgy is a profession with a long tradition of contributions to societal progress, and Tresa has helped to keep it alive and well and relevant.”

“We are all excited for this recognition of Tresa’s work on structural materials, such as metallic crystalline alloys for applications in high-performance turbines,” said Professor Michael Chabinyc, who last summer succeeded Pollock as Materials Department chair. “Tresa’s leadership on the development of the national Materials Genome Initiative, which aims to integrate computation with materials engineering, has had a significant impact on structural materials.” 

One of the awards — the 2018 Morris Cohen Award — recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the science and/or technology of materials properties. Pollock was cited for “seminal contributions to the development of integrated computational materials engineering and its application to understanding the properties of critical materials through creative synthesis, characterization, and measurement.”

The award was established to honor Morris Cohen, an MIT professor of metallurgy who was highly respected as a researcher, educator, and prominent leader in the field. Pollock’s letter of nomination refers to “her leadership as chair of the important National Research Council study on ‘Integrated Computational Materials Engineering,’ saying that it “ushered in a new era in the evolution of materials science and engineering unmatched in importance since the gestation of the discipline.”

“It is a very important award,” Levi said. “It's given to people who have contributed exceptionally to understanding the properties of materials. Tresa fits well into the category. She has also made wonderful contributions in processing and in developing new techniques for characterizing three-dimensional microstructures.”

For her second honor, Pollock was selected by TMS to become an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). AIME Honorary Members are recognized as standing at the pinnacle of the profession in terms of their technical contributions and their broad impact on their discipline, as well as for playing an exemplary role in their community. Pollock was cited for “extraordinary contributions to the metallurgical field as an inspiring educator, a creative technologist, an exceptional colleague, and a visionary leader of the TMS community.” Pollock is one of only two women who have been named Honorary Members, and she is the first woman nominated by TMS for that honor.

Levi noted: “Everybody knows Tresa has been at the top of her profession for some time, but she was too young to get this award. It is usually given to people who are older, but Tresa achieved that high stature at a much younger age.” He mentioned creativity and a willingness to take risks as characteristics that distinguish Pollock. “She has a very good sense of what's important, and a good sense for connections between different needs and the opportunities that arise from being creative in materials. She's fearless. She goes into areas where she knows she can contribute, though it might not be obvious to most people. That’s something most people would not dare to do, because of how hard and complicated the problems can be.”

Finally, Professor Pollock will receive the 2018 Alexander Scott Distinguished Service Award. It recognizes a member’s outstanding contributions to TMS as exhibited by his or her exceptional dedication of time, effort, thought, and action toward furthering the society’s mission through administrative and functional activities. Her citation for that award reads: “For educating, engaging and inspiring countless TMS leaders, and for her own unwavering dedication and service to TMS and the broader materials community.”

“Ever since those early days when I met her, Tresa has been a real source of energy for the society,” Levi said. “She has served as education director, chair of the structural materials division, and president of TMS, and is currently editor in chief of Metallurgical and Materials Transactions. Even after stepping down as president, she continues to serve on important committees, providing ongoing vision and assistance for the society.”

Professor Tresa Pollock in the 3D printing lab.

UCSB Alcoa Professor of Materials Tresa Pollock