Karl Gschneidner’s passion for research in rare earth metals is as strong now as it was nearly 60 years ago when he began working with these materials. He says it’s exciting science that allows him to make new discoveries often, with each finding enticing him to come back to see what the next day will bring. His profound drive and dedication have been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including recently being named a Materials Research Society (MRS) Fellow.
Gschneidner, a senior metallurgist for the Ames Laboratory and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, was elected fellow “for discovery of the giant magnetocaloric effect, and for service as chairman of the board of Acta Materialia, Inc. for ten years, and as lead editor of all 41 volumes of the Handbook of the Chemistry and Physics of the Rare Earths.”
MRS is an organization of materials researchers from academia, industry, and government that promotes communication for the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life. The organization names fellows to recognize members whose sustained and distinguished contributions to the advancement of materials research are internationally recognized. Gschneidner and other newly named fellows will be recognized at the 2011 MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco held April 25–27.
Gschneidner’s research focuses on understanding the science of rare earth metals, uncovering new thermal, magnetic, and electrical phenomena that occur under varied conditions of temperature, pressure, and magnetic field. He has long been a leader in the field, and his work has many highlights.
One early project involved working with cerium to determine how to prepare the pure allotropic forms by using unusual pressure and temperature techniques. More recently his research group discovered ductile intermetallic compounds, which are generally brittle like glass, making their discovery quite an accomplishment. “In our work, we find new behaviors and uncover the reasons for things we never understood before now,” he said.
Gschneidner is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, where one of his roles is to advise Congress on technical matters of concern to American’s economy and defense. He earned the William Hume-Rothery Award of The Metallurgical Society of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers in 1978, and was named the Science Alumnus of the Year 2000 by his alma mater the University of Detroit-Mercy. Gschneidner is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, American Society for Materials, and the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. He received the 2008 Acta Materialia Gold Medal, the most prestigious honor in the materials field, and is an honorary member of several organizations including the Materials Research Society of India and the Japan Institute of Metals.
Even with countless accolades, Gschneidner is still humbled when he receives an honor. “I am always surprised, especially when you consider how many talented people are out there deserving of these awards,” he said.