Katalin Balázsi - 2021 Acta Materialia Mary Fortune Global Diversity Medal Recipient
Katalin Balázsi - 2021 Acta Materialia Mary Fortune Global Diversity Medal Recipient

] The recipient of the 2021 Acta Materialia Mary Fortune Global Diversity Medal is Dr. Katalin Balázsi, Head of Thin Film Physics Department of Institute of Technical Physics and Materials Science, Centre for Energy Research of Eötvös Loránd Research Network, Hungary. She is also the President of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science (NATE).

Katalin Balázsi received her B.A. degree in Electromaterials Engineering in 2000, her M.A.   (2002) and Ph.D. (2005) degrees in Materials Science, all from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. She was named the Young Researcher in the Institute of Electrical Engineering at Slovak Academy of Sciences in 2005. She started her research career as research fellow in 2006 at the Institute of Technical Physics and Materials Science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and in 2012 was appointed senior scientist at the Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Balázsi has focused over 15 years of research activities in the area of nanocomposite thin films and bioceramics. In addition, important activities she participates in and organizes for the promotion and representation of women in the materials science and engineering field include the following:

  • Initiation of a program for which the goal is to take secondary and high school students (with 70% girls’ participation) into real-life environment materials science professions to make these more attractive, thus, contributing to easing the high-skilled workforce shortage in the tech sector in the long run. She prepared a one-year research program for young students (~ ages 16-18) in the field of materials science, with a focus on bioceramics. This real-life research activity took place every Friday for 3 hours in her laboratory. It is a great value and an important factor for students to gain first-hand experience and information on STEM professions as early as possible, even as early as in the senior years of primary school, but not later than  high school, before making a career choice.
  • Organization of a Girls Day for the past eight years in her laboratory; she was the first from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to initiate the participation of the Academy in this manner. As a result, from 2012 to 2019, a few thousand young girls (around age 16) gained insight into materials science research.
  • Organization of the national conferences in “Women in Science” topic and round table discussions with real-life problems about balancing family and research life.
  • Involved the girls in the programs in various research activities from a young age, before university, helping to increase the number of potential women researchers in materials science.
  • Organization of the International Workshop on Women in Ceramic Science, 2019 with support of the European Ceramic Society, with eight invited female professors from Europe and 50 young researchers. The aim of this workshop was to demonstrate that the European Ceramic Society boosts excellent women researchers in the field of ceramic science. Part of the workshop was a round table discussion oriented to the topic of "Balance between career and family in the life of young researchers."
  • Representation of women researchers at the international level as well as serving as a board member of the European Platform of Women Scientists (EPWS). EPWS is an international non-profit umbrella organisation bringing together networks of women scientists and organisations committed to gender equality.
  • Organization of a summer camp for kids living in a children´s home – promoting research activity with the help of MSc students from technical universities as positive role models.
  • Promoting balance between family and research career as a female researcher.
  • Supervision of female high school students in national competions for young innovators and Ph.D. students from third world countries as well as Hungary.

Dr. Balázsi’s contributions have been recognized in her election as a board member of the Engineering Ceramic Divison, the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), the council member of the European Ceramic Society (ECERS) and board member of administration of the European Platform of Women Scientists. She also served as the secretary of the Hungarian Microscopic Society and Hungarian Society of Materials Science.

Dr Balázsi’s scientific career has also been recognized with many awards and honors, including ACerS, Engineering Ceramics Division, 2019; Jubilee Global Diversity, Nature Research Innovating Science Award (as NATE president) in 2018; Gyulai Zoltán Award of Roland Eötvös Physical Society in 2017; and Bolyai Plaquett of Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2015.

Dr. Balázsi will receive the Acta Materialia Mary Fortune Global Diversity Medal during the 2021 TMS Spring Meeting to be held in Orlando, Florida in March 2021.