David B. Williams

Professor David B. Williams is honored to be the first winner of the Peter Duncumb award. It is fitting that this award comes at the end of his research and education career. He is leaving Lehigh University after 31 years to take on the Presidency of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. At Lehigh, he had the privilege of being mentored by Joe Goldstein, a giant in the field of microanalysis.  As a professor, he had the equal privilege and pleasure of mentoring dozens of students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers as faculty members and researchers in industry and at national labs. (As a university president he will certainly not be “active in his (microanalysis) career” beyond this year and will henceforth be ineligible for the Duncumb award!).

When he became VP Research at Lehigh, Joe Goldstein handed off the leadership of the renowned Lehigh Short Courses (now the Lehigh Microscopy School) to Dave who led the courses for around 20 years. The courses that Joe started in 1970 grew over the years to a scale where there were almost 200 students attending annually. Many thousands of microscopists and microanalysts have learned from the microanalysis legends who continue to teach at Lehigh.

Dave was fortunate to gain experience in energy-loss spectrometry in its earliest days when, as a PhD student at Cambridge University, he applied plasmon-loss spectrometry to Al-Li alloys. This project was “a useless technique applied to a useless material – just perfect for a PhD” said one of his advisors. Well, EELS hasn’t gone away and Al-Li alloys constitute the skin of almost all major rockets that support international space programs. Nevertheless (hedging his bets about the future of EELS) Dave was introduced to XEDS by Joe and Dave introduced Joe to (S)TEM. Thus, a dynasty in thin-film microanalysis was born, culminating in the first proof of atomic-level XEDS sensitivity with Masashi Watanabe (Ultramicroscopy, 78, 89-101, 1999).

Dave also took a leaf out of Joe’s book (literally!) and his textbook with Barry Carter (Transmission Electron Microscopy-A Textbook for Materials Science, 750 pp., Plenum Press, New York, NY, 1996) has taken over as the “bible” in the (S)TEM field just as Joe (and his Lehigh Short Course colleagues’) textbooks have dominated the SEM textbook field for decades.

Dave holds B.A., M.A., Ph.D., and Sc.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge (where, appropriately, Peter Duncumb worked in the late 1950s producing the first ever X-ray compositional maps of materials’ surfaces). Dave was MAS President in 1991-2 and became the first President of IUMAS from 1992-2000.  MAS has previously honored him with the Heinrich Award and the Presidential Science Award. A Fellow of several materials and microscopy/microanalysis professional societies, Dave has given almost 300 invited talks in 28 countries.  He has edited Acta Materialia and Journal of Microscopy, is author, co-author or editor of 11 textbooks and conference proceedings and has published more than 400 papers on electron-microscopy and microanalysis studies of metals and alloys. All this success is attributed to the extraordinary friends, colleagues, microscopy lab technicians and gifted students with whom Dave has had the good fortune to work over the past 30 and more years.