Materials scientist appointed to UNM-Sandia joint position

July 24, 2014 - By Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories have selected Fernando Garzon, whose background is in materials science and engineering, as the latest jointly-appointed faculty member between the two institutions.

Beginning Sept. 8, 2014, Garzon will hold the position of professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UNM, and the position of joint university faculty research scientist at Sandia. His time will be split between the two institutions, and he will have access to equipment and facilities at both UNM and Sandia.

Garzon comes to the position from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he has held a variety of positions since 1988, including technical team leader, technical project leader, deputy group leader, and postdoctoral fellow. Since 1997, he has been the materials chemistry team leader for the electronic and electrochemical materials and devices group.

According to the agreement between the two institutions, the purpose of the joint hire is to collaboratively advance mutual research and development interests in the areas of materials science and engineering.

“New Mexico benefits from a wealth of knowledge, thanks to our national laboratories and institutions of higher education,” UNM President Robert G. Frank said. “Collaborations like this joint hire allow UNM and Sandia to share the talent of outstanding researchers, strengthen our ties, and magnify our resources. This is a great opportunity for all of us.”

UNM’s provost echoed that sentiment, emphasizing the boost in Sandia-UNM collaborations.

“The selection of Dr. Garzon as our newest Sandia-UNM joint hire is the successful culmination of the efforts of Sandia and UNM personnel through a collaborative process that was guided by directives from the president of UNM and the director of Sandia National Laboratories,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, UNM provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “In selecting Dr. Garzon, SNL and UNM have gained a world-renowned researcher and set the stage for future joint hires and collaborative research.”

Garzon earned his bachelor of science in engineering degree in materials science and engineering in 1982 and his Ph.D. in 1988 in materials science and engineering, both from the University of Pennsylvania.

His research interests include fuel-cell materials technology, energy storage technology, high-temperature materials and devices, the development of advanced gas sensors, electronic-conducting transition metal oxides, thin film growth, ceramic membrane technology, and solid-state ionics.

Garzon has co-authored over 130 scientific journal articles with more than 5,000 citations and has been an editor for the Electrochemical Society Publication series, Solid State Ionic Devices. He is the inventor of an R&D 100 award-winning high-temperature combustion control sensor and a new class of solid-state gas sensors for hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxides. He holds 10 patents in electrochemical technology.

“I am very pleased to accept this joint position,” Garzon said. “The University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratory offer a truly unique educational and research environment. The complementary attributes of both organizations provide exciting opportunities to engage in multidisciplinary research and the training of our next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Garzon is past chairman of the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society and was named a Fellow of the society in 2008. He has held a variety of positions with the society, including president, 2012-2013, and vice president, 2009-2012.

While at Los Alamos, he has mentored many doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows and has been an invited participant to a variety of Department of Energy workshops around the country.

The joint hires signify a recent emphasis on collaboration between the two institutions. In 2011, a memorandum of understanding was signed in which UNM and Sandia outlined steps to highlight existing collaborations and develop new collaborations, including in the areas of research, facilities, and joint hiring of faculty. In January 2014, the two institutions signed at inter-institutional visitor agreement to allow access for UNM researchers to use the Annular Core Research Reactor facility and the Gamma Irradiation Facility at Sandia.