Ames Laboratory Scientists Assume National Science Advisory Roles

For release: April 6, 2010 


Paul Canfield, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, 515-294-6270
Pat Thiel, Division of Materials Sciencesand Engineering, 515-294-8985
Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Public Affairs,515-294-9750


AMES, Iowa – Two scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have been appointed to National Academies committees. Paul Canfield, Ames Laboratory senior physicist, has been named to the National Academies’ Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee. Pat Thiel, Ames Laboratory senior chemist, has been appointed to the National Academies’ Chemical Sciences Roundtable.

The Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee and the Chemical Sciences Roundtable are important standing committees of the National Academies, which include the National Research Council, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The committees operate in an advisory role to the government and its various science agencies, identifying new trends and issues, and helping to set the research agenda.

CMMRC and CSR members are appointed based on their depth and breadth of knowledge, in the expectation that they will share their wisdom to the benefit of the nation.

“The CMMRC and CSR committees are quite small, so membership is an unusual distinction, and it represents no small amount of work, either,” said Ames Laboratory Director Alex King. “The Ames Laboratory is very fortunate to have two of our researchers appointed to these influential roles in the same year. It is a sign of our growing role in enabling the future.”

Canfield’s position is on a standing committee responsible for advising the Board on Physics and Astronomy and the National Research Council on the fields of condensed matter science and materials research, including the physics, chemistry, and biological applications of these fields.

According to the National Academies Web site, the Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee “holds discussions with researchers in academe, industry and government laboratories; managers of the research enterprise; and policy leaders in science and technology communities.

The committee also meets with representatives from federal agencies providing support for the fields noted above, with those discussions focusing on current programs, policies, trends and issues. The CMMRC plans and develops prospectuses for studies and

Paul Canfield

other activities, which are to be carried out by separately appointed ad hoc committees/panels and can result in NRC reports. Such reports may contain assessments of research areas with recommendations aimed at facilitating scientific progress  in the forefront areas of research in these fields.”

“Given the challenges that humanity has to face in the coming century, challenges associated with the production and conservation of energy and natural resources, there is a growing need for the design, discovery and mastery of novel materials,” said Canfield. “I hope that the United States can have a leadership role in discovering and utilizing these materials and their subsequent technologies.”

Pat Thiel

Thiel will serve a three-year term on the National Academies’ Chemical Sciences Roundtable, which is made up of leaders in chemical research and enterprise, and its objective is to facilitate communication between all segments of chemistry research and industry.

The group seeks to enhance understanding of issues in the chemical sciences that affect the government, industry, academic, national laboratory and nonprofit sectors and to be a vehicle for education and discussion of issues and trends in chemical sciences. To achieve this, the group organizes workshops and publishes proceedings on emerging topics in the chemical sciences that are likely to have a high impact on the scientific community or on society at large.

“I look forward to serving the scientific community, learning about new topics in chemistry, and sharing expertise gained from my experiences in research, teaching,

and administration,” said Thiel. “Communication across disciplines and organizations that takes places in the Chemical Sciences Roundtable is necessary to solve the important and complex problems facing chemists today.”

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global challenges.