Karl E. Spear

ECS President | 2002-2003

Karl E. SpearKarl E. Spear is Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He received a B.S. (mathematics) from Baker University, a Ph.D. (physical chemistry) from the University of Kansas, and studied 15 months at the University of Münster, Germany on an NSF Graduate Fellowship. He worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for three years prior to joining Penn State in 1970. From 1986-91 he was chair of PSU’s Ceramic Science and Engineering Program. Sabbaticals were spent at the University of Oxford, AERE Harwell, and the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

Dr. Spear is a Fellow of The Electrochemical Society and the American Ceramic Society. He received the ECS Solid State Science and Technology Award in 1997, and has been a member of the executive committee of the High Temperature Materials Division for fourteen years, serving all of the officer positions. He has co-organized and co-edited the proceedings of a number of Society symposia and proceedings. He has been a member and chair of many of the Society’s committees, and has been a member of the its Board of Directors for the past six years.

Dr. Spear was a titular member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and served as the chair of its Commission II.3 on High Temperature Materials and Solid-State Chemistry. He organized and edited the proceedings of the IUPAC-sponsored Ninth International Conference on High Temperature Materials Chemistry in May of 1997. The proceedings were published by the ECS, and the meeting was cosponsored by the ECS High Temperature Materials Division. He also chaired the Gordon Research Conference on High Temperature Chemistry.

Dr. Spear has served on external review committees for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, the Swedish National Research Council, and has served on numerous other boards/councils of professional organizations. He has been a consultant with a number of government laboratories and companies.

Dr. Spear has authored or co-authored more than 175 publications and three patents, primarily on experimental and theoretical research concerned with the synthesis and chemical behavior of materials at high temperatures. Major research topics have included nuclear fuel materials, metal boride systems, theory and practice of crystal growth and CVD, vapor deposition of diamond, oxidation and corrosion of advanced ceramics, interface reactions in composites, and the thermodynamic modeling of oxide phase diagrams and complex glass systems. A common thread in his research has been the application of high temperature chemistry principles, phase equilibria, and thermodynamics to predict and understand materials behavior. Partial equilibrium concepts used in the thermochemical modeling of dynamically reacting CVD systems were later applied to a wide variety of interface reactions such as those occurring in composite systems, in oxidation and corrosion processes, and in modeling the behavior of glass processing and systems.