Richard Alkire

ECS is family

For many years of his childhood, Richard Alkire would walk past Lafayette College every day in his hometown of Easton, PA, knowing that one day he would pursue higher education at the institution, but not knowing the impact that this step would have on his future.

When Alkire finally made the move to be a student at Lafayette College, his advisor saw his aptitude for electrochemical engineering and suggested Alkire continue his studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Here, Alkire would begin building his ECS community that would continue to have a significant impact throughout the entirety of his career.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Alkire studied under past ECS president (1970-1971) and “father of electrochemical engineering,” Charles Tobias. His work with Tobias led him to prolific researcher and ECS member, John Newman. Alkire’s postdoc work brought him even closer to the Society, making the trek to Göttingen, Germany to work under Carl Wagner, pioneering solid state chemist and namesake of the Society’s Carl Wagner Memorial Award.

“My attitudes about engineering grew out of these experiences,” Alkire said. “They were really good engineers, really good scientists, and really good people.”

After engaging unofficially with prominent members of the ECS community, Alkire made the full commitment to the Society when he joined in 1969. He would become a key figure in the ECS community, being elected president in 1985, named an honorary member in 1991, elected fellow in 1992, and receiving the Society’s most prestigious award, the Edward Goodrich Acheson Award in 1996.

But Alkire’s impact and academic family tree continues to grow its roots in the Society. Many students that passed through Alkire’s classroom continue to be involved with ECS, including Lili Deligianni, IBM researcher and past ECS secretary; and James Fenton, the Society’s current secretary and director of the Florida Solar Energy Center.

“Our community is more than just academics and subject matter,” Fenton said. “It’s family.”