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Scientific collaboration is vital, says Imperial's new head of materials


Collaboration between scientific disciplines is the key to finding solutions to major world challenges, according to Imperial College London's new head of the Department of Materials.

Professor Bill Lee

William Lee, whose appointment is announced today, believes that materials science in particular has a unique role to play in pushing forward the interdisciplinary research that enables important breakthroughs to be made. He says:

"Materials is crucial to a technology-based institution because it underpins all other disciplines. It's the glue that holds everything else together, which means it has to be strong."

Ranging across metals, ceramics and glasses as well as 'smart' and nanomaterials, materials research at Imperial has a wide range of applications, from health and quality of life to energy and the environment. Professor Lee, currently professor of ceramic science and engineering at the University of Sheffield, believes this broad nature will give the discipline an increasingly vital role.

"Everyone wants to live longer and enjoy good health, and there is a lot we can now do to improve quality of life," he comments. "Biomaterials, for instance, is very strong at Imperial and has potential for even greater growth and contribution to health in the future.

"There is also a great deal that materials scientists can contribute to cleaning up the environment and finding ways to pollute less - dealing with toxic waste, reducing carbon emissions and developing clean fuels are just a few examples."

Welcoming him to Imperial, Julia King Opens in new window, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering, said: "Leading the Department of Materials requires great depth and breadth of knowledge, both of the subject itself and of the wider arena in which it operates. With his experience and enthusiasm, Bill Lee fits this requirement perfectly and we are delighted that he is coming to Imperial to lead the department to even greater successes."

Professor Lee is professor of ceramic science and engineering and director of the Immobilisation Science Laboratory at the University of Sheffield. He will take up the post at Imperial in January 2006, taking over from Professor John Kilner who became head of department in September 2000.

Photographs of Professor Lee are available.

For further information contact:

Abigail Smith
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: 020 7594 6701
Email: abigail.smith@imperial.ac.uk

Notes to editors

About Professor William Lee

Professor William Lee, 47, gained his BSc in Physical Metallurgy at the University of Aston and was awarded his DPhil by Oxford University in 1983. After carrying out post-doctoral research at Oxford, he moved to Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and then Ohio State University before joining the Department of Engineering Materials at the University of Sheffield in 1989. He became professor of ceramic science and engineering in 1998 and in 2001 set up the Immobilisation Science Laboratory, building the team from scratch to its current level of 40 staff.

He is a fellow of The American Ceramic Society and The Institute of Materials who awarded him the Rosenhain Medal and Premium in 1999 for distinguished contribution to Materials Science, and the Pfeil Award in 2000 (with H. Rezaie and W. M. Rainforth) for the ceramics paper of particular merit. Professor Lee is a member of The High Scientific Council of The European Nuclear Society, The International Globalisation Task Force of the American Ceramic Society and Associate Editor of the Journal of The American Ceramic Society.

His new book, 'Introduction to Nuclear Waste Immobilisation', is published in September 2005.

About the Department of Materials, Imperial College London

The Department of Materials at Imperial College is the oldest and largest department of its kind in the UK, with a teaching quality assessment score of 24/24 and a 5A rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise.

Departmental research and teaching in materials science and engineering are exceptionally broad, both in terms of the materials studied - metals, ceramics, polymers, glasses, composites, semiconductors and biomaterials, and in terms of the disciplines embraced - including physics, chemistry and many engineering disciplines.

Recent additions to the undergraduate course include bioengineering and tissue engineering.

New materials, such as high temperature superconductors, 'smart' materials and nanomaterials are continually being researched and developed.

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

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