You are here

Martin P. Harmer

  • Adjunct Professor
  • 610-758-4227


Martin Harmer is the Alcoa Foundation Professor of Material 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 graduated with a first class honors B.Sc. degree and a Ph.D in ceramics. He conducted his doctoral research on the rapid sintering of pure and doped alpha alumina under the supervision of Dr. Sir Richard Brook. During his Ph.D. he spent one year on a graduate fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, learning advanced techniques in transmission electron microscopy under the guidance of Dr. Gareth Thomas.

Dr. Harmer joined Lehigh University as an Assistant Professor of Material Science in 1980 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1988 at age 34. 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 Center Director in July 2014 to assume his current position as Senior Faculty Advisor for Research.

Dr. Harmer has supervised more than 60 Ph.D. students and 25 post-doctoral researchers and published approximately 300 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 the breakthrough experimental discovery that grain boundaries exhibit phase-like behavior (called "grain boundary complexions"), which has provided new insight into long-standing mysteries in material science, such as the origin of abnormal growth and the cause of grain boundary embrittlement.

Dr. Harmer is an ISI highly cited researcher and an American Ceramic Society (ACSerS) Fellow. He has received several awards from the ACerS, including the Distinguished Life Member award, the W. David Kingery Award, the Robert Sosman Lecture Award, the Richard Fulrath Award, the Ross Coffin Purdy Best Paper Award, and the Rowland B. Snow Award. He is a member of the World Academy of Ceramics, the European Academy of Science, and the International Institute for the Science of Sintering. He is a recipient of the George C. Kuczynski Prize for Sintering and the Humboldt Prize for Senior Scientists from The Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation. He also received a Dupont Faculty Award, an IBM Faculty Development Award, an Alcoa Foundation Award, and was a first round recipient of the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. He has been an editor for Acta Materialia since 2007 and currently serves on the board of directors of ACerS.

Martin helped coordinate a $10 million joint NSF proposal for a Expeditions Center proposal between The Ohio State University and Lehigh University on "Scalable Intelligent Human Machine Systems for Imaging: Transforming Decision Making and Discovery in Materials and Medicine".

Harmer and Ohio State's Dave McComb, Professor and Ohio Research Scholar
Director (Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis), established a remote connection between Lehigh University's visualization and data analysis laboratory and CEMAS.


He was also involved in the joint NSF DMREF proposal with Dave McComb and Jeff Rickman.

See Martin Harmer's CV