UT’s Peter Liaw has spent most of his adult life gaining a better understanding of metals, alloys, and composites.
For those efforts, Liaw, the Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has earned what is considered to be the highest honor in his field: being named a fellow of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS).
“I am honored and humbled by this selection,” said Liaw. “It is a very prestigious society, one that I first joined as a student nearly 40 years ago. To see that it comes full circle is a great pleasure.”
Being a TMS fellow places Liaw in exclusive company, as its rules stipulate that there can only be 100 living fellows at any given time.
Liaw’s expertise comes mainly in the areas of material fracturing and fatiguing and in the prediction of how long a particular material will last in a given environment and use.
Since coming to UT in 1993, he has expanded his work to include mechanical behavior, nondestructive evaluation, biomaterials, and processing of alloys and composites, often in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In its notice about Liaw’s election as a fellow, TMS mentioned his “seminal contributions to the fundamental understanding of fatigue and fracture behavior in metals and alloys, including advanced structural materials.”
To that effect, he has served as an editor on more than 50 books and special journal issues, has published more than 800 journal papers, and has mentored numerous graduate students who have gone on to win awards.
Liaw said he is very grateful to his students, research associates, and colleagues at UT, ORNL, and around the world, and that he “learns greatly from them.”
He also thanked the support and funding he has gotten in his career, including from UT and ORNL, Westinghouse, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Defense, and from industries.
“Dr. Liaw has long been a driving force and valuable member of our department,” said Department Head and Director of the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, Veerle Keppens. “This recognition serves as a reminder of how important he is to UT and to our field in general.”
Upon graduating Northwestern University in 1980, Liaw spent 13 years at Westinghouse’s Research and Development Center, earning multiple outstanding performance awards.
He is also a fellow of the American Society for Metals, has served on numerous boards both there and with TMS, and has won several awards since coming to UT, including the Outstanding Teacher award, the Moses E. and Mayme Brooks Distinguished Professor award, the Engineering Research Fellow award, the National Alumni Association Distinguished Service Professor award, the L. R. Hesler award, and the John Fisher Professorship at UT.
In addition to his academic roles, Liaw served as director of the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training program, director of the NSF International Materials Institutes program, and the director of the NSF Major Research Instrumentation program here at UT.