Martin P. Harmer is the Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the Senior Faculty Advisor for Research Initiatives at Lehigh University. He studied ceramics at Leeds University in England from 1972 to 1980 where he obtained a first class honors B.Sc. degree and a Ph.D. in ceramics. He also earned a higher doctorate (Doctor of Science) degree in ceramics from Leeds in 1995. He joined Lehigh University as an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in 1980 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1988. He assumed the Directorship of the Materials Research Center in 1992, which he transitioned into the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology in 2002. He stepped down as the Center Director in July 2014 to assume his current position as Senior Faculty Advisor for Research.
He has supervised more than 60 Ph.D. students and 25 post-doctoral researchers and published over 250 papers. His research has focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of interfacial transport and microstructure development in structural and electronic ceramics. His work has led to fundamental discoveries about the nature of grain boundaries including a breakthrough experimental discovery that grain boundaries exhibit phase-like behavior called grain boundary complexion, which has provided new explanations for longstanding problems in material science, such as the origin of abnormal growth and the cause of liquid-metal embrittlement.
He is an ISI highly cited researcher and a Fellow of ACerS. He has received several awards from ACerS including the W. David Kingery Award, the Robert B. Sosman Memorial Lecture Award, the Richard M. Fulrath Award, the Ross Coffin Purdy Award and the Rowland B. Snow Award. He is a member of the World Academy of Ceramics, the European Academy of Sciences and the International Institute for the Science of Sintering. He is a recipient of the George C. Kuczynski Prize for Sintering, the Humboldt Prize for Senior Scientists from the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation, and was a first round recipient of the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. He has been an Editor of Acta Materialia since 2007.
He has served the Society in a number of capacities including; Chair of the Basic Science Division; program co-chair for the Annual Meeting; Associate Editor for the Journal; member of the Nominating Committee, the Fulrath Award Committee, the Kingery Award Committee and the Sosman Award Committee. He has been nominated to serve a term on the Board of Directors of ACerS from 2015 to 2018.