Wise takes reins from Hines as director of CCMR
By Tom Fleischman
Melissa Hines, professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, guided the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) for two terms as director and shepherded the center through two critical funding cycles from the National Science Foundation, including its most recent renewal, announced last month.
And in September, after 12 successful years at CCMR’s helm, she turned the reins over to Frank Wise, the Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Engineering in the Department of Applied and Engineering Physics (AEP).
Wise is the 10th director of the CCMR, which was founded in 1960 as the Cornell Materials Science Center. He said his short-term goal is to learn about every aspect of the highly respected center – and “not mess anything up,” he added with a smile.
“The learning curve is steep at the moment,” he said. “In the next few years, we want to make sure the new collaborations in the center gel, while maintaining and expanding our education and outreach activities.”
The outgoing director praised her successor.
“Frank Wise is an excellent choice,” said Hines, who took the position in 2005 from Francis DiSalvo, the J.A. Newman Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Hines’ tenure was the longest in CCMR history, though two other directors – Herbert Johnson (1974-1984) and John Silcox (1989-1997) – also served multiple terms.
“Frank has a deep understanding of materials research as well as extensive administrative experience,” said Hines, noting that Wise served as director of AEP from 2007 to 2011 and has served on the CCMR executive committee.
“We welcome Frank Wise as director of CCMR,” said Emmanuel Giannelis, vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy.
“Frank brings a unique set of skills as an outstanding researcher and administrator, and I am confident that through his leadership CCMR will continue to thrive and break new ground in materials research, education and facility innovation,” said Giannelis, the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering.
Wise said one of the things he likes most about the CCMR is that it fosters the type of research – collaborative work, across campus and disciplines – for which Cornell is known.
“It specifically supports interdisciplinary research – the kinds of things that no individual research group could do alone,” he said. “In addition to faculty producing world-class science, it has contributed enormously to materials infrastructure at Cornell. This includes the strong culture of cooperation and collaboration on campus.”
Hines this year helped the center secure a six-year, $23.2 million funding extension from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 26 percent increase over its 2011 NSF grant.
“I am grateful for the tremendous dedication of Melissa Hines, who has masterfully guided the CCMR over the past 12 years,” Giannelis said.
“The center has been remarkably successful in producing world-leading research, while simultaneously evolving to go in new research directions,” Wise said. “The latter is always a challenge and is viewed as critical by the NSF. Melissa did a brilliant job leading her staff and faculty in the center.”
The CCMR, funded by the NSF and New York state, is an interdisciplinary research center whose mission is to advance, explore and exploit the forefront of the science and engineering of advanced materials. This objective is pursued through fundamental, experimental and theoretical studies.
CCMR’s mission includes three other critical components: educational outreach to teachers and students; industrial outreach and knowledge transfer; and the operation of shared instrumentation in support of materials research, on and off campus.
State funding helps support CCMR’s JumpStart Program, designed to help New York state small businesses develop and improve their products through university collaborations. JumpStart projects receive matching funds for project costs that include faculty and research staff, facilities, services, supplies and materials.