He sees enormous potential to build on existing strengths in areas such as nanoscale science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, electronic materials, and computational materials science, and to expand breakthrough research in energy solutions and integrating materials into biological systems. Hull also points to the caliber of faculty and students and the collaboration among research disciplines.
“This is a culture where there’s a very strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research. That presents significant opportunities for growth,” he says, citing, for example, the interface between materials science and biology. Hull also intends to capitalize on more traditional areas of strength, such as metallurgy.
“Over the last 10 to 20 years, support for research in metals has waned. Now the pendulum has swung back, and there is a tremendous need worldwide for people who have a background in metallurgy,” he explains. “We want to maintain and expand upon our strength in this area so Rensselaer will be in the forefront, ready to fill that need.”
Hull shares the Institute’s commitment to providing research opportunities for undergraduates, both to expose them to the joy of discovery and to help them make decisions about the future.
“Some students will discover a tremendous passion for research,” Hull says, much as he did during that experiment years ago at Oxford.
Hull came to Rensselaer from the University of Virginia, where he was the Charles Henderson Professor of Engineering. He also directed the university’s Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Science and its Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.
In academia and industry, Hull is best known for his research into fundamental growth mechanisms of semiconductor films and nanostructures, and for his work in exploring potential applications of these structures to future nanoelectronic devices. He will continue this pursuit at Rensselaer.
A fellow of the American Physical Society, Hull also is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and, in 1997, served as president of the Materials Research Society. In 1993 he chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Thin Films and, in 1999, chaired the Committee of Visitors for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Materials Research. Hull has published more than 200 articles and presented at numerous national and international conferences.