Steven May Appointed Materials Science and Engineering Department Head

Steven May, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering, has been appointed Department Head of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), effective July 1, 2020. With an expansive set of experiences under his belt, May is eager to implement his vision of a globally adept and sustainable department.

Steven May
Dr. Steven May

Announcing the appointment, Dean Sharon Walker expressed confidence in May’s foresight of the department noting, “Dr. May has been incredibly engaged in our college-wide strategic planning process, and I am looking forward to his transition to the leadership team.”

May, who also recently served as a graduate advisor in MSE, has a strong performance record with accolades including an NSF Career Award, the ARO Young Investigator Award, the Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society, and the Bradley Stoughton Award for Young Teachers from ASM International. His greatest reward, however, has been advising graduate students on their research projects and watching them launch their careers, or, in the case of BSMS students, pursue doctoral degrees at universities including Harvard, Yale and MIT.

As department head, May plans lead efforts focused on innovating within the curriculum. For example, a new faculty member will join MSE this year with expertise in computational materials science, and May would like to incorporate these techniques into the classroom. He also expects to see the department’s recently opened undergraduate lab grow in terms of equipment and capabilities to incorporate more hands-on module activities for students.

“Materials plays a big role and is such an interdisciplinary field.”
Steven May

May also has ideas to build the department’s alumni engagement, offering students professional development opportunities in building skills in communication and leadership. In particular, he intends to create stronger connections while students are on co-op and integrate those experiences into the curriculum more seamlessly through deliverable content.

“I think MSE has a number of research strengths in a variety of societally critical areas,” said May. “These include the development of nanomaterials for energy storage, novel polymers, biomaterials, and materials for sustainability and next-generation electronics.

“A lot of our existing research strategic areas couple into issues of sustainability, challenges with renewable energies and applications in health and medicine,” said May. “Materials plays a big role and is such an interdisciplinary field—we’re really well positioned to help lead and expand interdepartmental and inter-college collaborations. I see MSE branching out and forming partnerships across campus to help elevate the research impact and enterprise at Drexel.” 

May holds a BS in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Penn State University, and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. He was then a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory in the Materials Science Division for two and a half years, a time which May regards as formative and invaluable in shaping his knowledge of techniques, and in developing his confidence in the field by learning from some of the world’s top scientists. At Drexel, May’s research is focused on synthesis and characterization of thin films and heterostructures, with an emphasis on magnetic, electronic and optical properties and the use of scattering techniques to probe interfacial properties.