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Joint UT­­–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials Steven Zinkle was recently awarded the Robert Franklin Mehl Award, one of the most prestigious given in his field.

The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) bestowed the honor on Zinkle for “innovative research on microstructure/property relationships in irradiated materials,” which has led to a better understanding of and ability to design and fabricate high-performance radiation-resistant materials.

“This honor means a lot to me, since TMS was the first professional society meeting I attended in grad school and TMS is consistently the best conference venue for structural materials research,” said Zinkle, who works in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UT.

“To receive an award that has been previously presented to materials science leaders who I’ve greatly admired is a humbling experience.”

The Institute of Metals Division created the award in 1921, renaming it for Robert Mehl, an icon in the field, after his death in 1972. Mehl is credited with shaping the early foundations of what is now known as materials science out of the centuries-old art of metallurgy.

“Steve’s selection for this award is a testament to both his success as a researcher and faculty member, and a sign of the growing importance of advanced materials,” said Tickle College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “This honor is well earned and deserved.”

Materials science is quickly becoming one of the most important areas of study in the modern world, affecting everything from electronics to manufacturing.

Zinkle’s expertise in the field led to his appointment as a Governor’s Chair in 2013. It also led to his membership in the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials and his work in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

Zinkle’s research is improving the safety, security, and reliability of nuclear power by developing advanced high-performance materials.

“I have been fortunate to collaborate with outstanding colleagues at UT, ORNL, and elsewhere to explore multiple research paths on how materials behave in extreme environments,” said Zinkle. “These fruitful collaborations have accelerated the pace of discovery for understanding performance limits and design strategies for new radiation-resistant structural materials.”

As part of the award process, Zinkle presented the Institute of Metals invited lecture at the 146th TMS annual meeting in San Diego.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,