Deborah Chung named Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Release Date: April 26, 2023

Deborah Chung portrait.
“With the election of these members, the academy is honoring excellence, innovation, and leadership and recognizing a broad array of stellar accomplishments. ”
David W. Oxtoby, president
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Deborah D.L. Chung, PhD, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Chung is among 269 new fellows drawn from academia, the arts, industry, policy, research and science in 2023. Of those, she is one of 11 people elected under the academy’s engineering and technology section. All new members will be inducted on Sept. 29-30 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest scholarly societies in the United States. It was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other revolutionary leaders.

“With the election of these members, the academy is honoring excellence, innovation, and leadership and recognizing a broad array of stellar accomplishments. We hope every new member celebrates this achievement and joins our work advancing the common good,” said David W. Oxtoby, president of the academy.

A prolific scholar with over 600 peer-reviewed journal publications, Chung joined UB in 1986. She specializes in materials science and engineering, particularly smart materials; multifunctional structural materials, concrete; thermal management; battery electrode materials; carbon fibers and nanofibers; composite materials and their interfaces;, electronic packaging materials; electromagnetic interference shielding materials; and vibration damping materials.

Chung is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Charles E. Pettinos Award from the American Carbon Society; the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities; the SUNY Outstanding Inventor Award; an honorary doctorate from the University of Alicante; and the Hsun Lee Award, jointly awarded by Institute of Metal Research (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science.

According to the 2022 ranking from Stanford University that examined 315,721  researchers (living and deceased) in the field of materials research, Chung is ranked No. 13, No. 10 among those that are living, and No. 1 among females.

Chung is a dedicated teacher, having mentored 37 PhD graduates and received the Teacher of the Year award from the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. The books that she has authored include “Functional Materials,” “Carbon Materials,” and “Composite Materials.” Due to her interest in inspiring young people to pursue science careers, she is the editor of the book series “The Road to Scientific Success: Inspiring Life Stories of Prominent Researchers.” 

Her talents extend beyond science. For example, she holds the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) diploma in piano performance from the Royal Schools of Music and she placed second at the Hong Kong Music Festival in the piano solo competition. She has been asked many times to speak on the intersection of science and music. 

She also is a co-author of the book “Piloted to Serve,” an autobiography of her mother, Rebecca Chan Chung (1920-2011), a nurse with the Flying Tigers, U.S. Army and China National Aviation Corporation during World War II and a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal Chung also speaks on history.

Chung is a Fellow of The American Carbon Society and a Fellow of ASM (the former American Society for Metals) International. She is also an affiliate faculty member with UB’s RENEW Institute, a university-wide, multidisciplinary research institute that focuses on complex energy and environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are connected.

Before arriving at UB, Chung was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the founding director of the Composite Materials Research Laboratory at UB, and served as the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. Endowed Chair Professor from 1991-2008.

Chung earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Applied Science, and a Master of Science in Engineering Science, both from the California Institute of Technology, more commonly known as Caltech, where she was the university’s first female engineering graduate. She earned a PhD degree in Materials Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of the late Professor Millie Dresselhaus.

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