George Mayer

George Mayer

  • Research Professor of Materials Science & Engineering
Office:335 Roberts Hall
Phone:(206) 616-2832
Fax:(206) 543-3100


1957 Boston University - B.S., Aeronautical Engineering

1963 University of Oklahoma M.S., Metallurgical Engineering

1967 Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Ph.D., Metallurgy

Research Interests:

My research activities have been in the area of Bioinspired Materials. This has encompassed:

  • Discovering the Mechanisms underlying Toughening, or Energy Dissipation, of rigid natural composites, such as shells and spicules. These comprise on the order of 95 volume percent ceramic phase, with the remainder being organic component(s), mainly proteins.
  • Designing and Building Synthetic Analogs that exhibit most of the traits of the natural hybrid composites.
  • Handling, Mechanical Testing Techniques, and In-Situ Examination Methods for Very Fine Fibers have been, and continue to be important issues.
  • Mechanisms of Adhesion in Natural Materials is a new area of effort, which will be pursued in conjunction with the Department of Biology.

Professional Experience

Sept 2000 - Present Research Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Aug 1999 - June 2000 Consultant, The Leverite Group, Alexandria, Virginia

Feb 1997 - Aug 1999 Principal Advisor, Army Research Office-Ballston, Arlington, Virginia

1994 - 1996 Senior Advisor. Office of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering, The Pentagon, Washington, DC

1992 - 1999 Associate Director(to 1994); also Research Professor), Materials Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1988 - 1992 Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Virginia 1968 1988 Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

1975 - 1988 Director, Materials Science Division

1972 - 1975 Associate Director, Materials Science Division

1968 - 1972 Chief, Physical Mechanical Branch, Metallurgy and Ceramics Division

1969 - 1992 Adjunct Professor of Materials (Concurrently), Science and Engineering (Adjunct Associate Professor

1969 - 1975), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

1966 - 1968 Senior Research Scientist and Project, Manager, Monsanto Company, Everett, Massachusetts

1963 - 1967 Member of Research Staff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1961 - 1963 Project Manager, Ilikon Corporation, Natick, Massachusetts

1958 - 1961 Aeronautical Engineer (USAF), Group Leader, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma

1957 - 1958 Test and Development Engineer, Chrysler Corporation, Warren, Michigan

1957 Aeronautical Research Engineer, Allied Research Associates, Boston, Massachusetts


1966 - Elected Full Member, The Society of The Sigma Xi

1975 - Elected Fellow of American Institute of Chemists

1975 - Listing in American Men and Women of Science

1980 - Listing in Whos Who in the South and Southwest

1987 - U.S. Army Special Achievement Award

1988 - U.S. Army Decoration for Meritorious Service

1995 - Elected Fellow of ASM International

Professional Societies

ASM International, American Institute of Chemists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Materials Research Society

Selected Publications

  • "Rigid Biological Systems as Models for Synthetic Composites", Science, V.310, 1144-1147, (2005).
  • "New Classes of Tough Composite Materials-Lessons from Natural Rigid Biological Systems", Materials Science and Engineering-C, in press, (2005).
  • (with S.L. Walter and B.D. Flinn) "Mechanisms of toughening of a natural rigid composite", accepted for publication in Materials Science and Engineering-C.
  • "Toughening of Ceramic", Amer. Ceramic Soc. Bulletin, June, Vol. 83, No. 6 & July, Vol. 83, No. 7, 2004.
  • "Rigid Biological Composite Materials" (co-author), Expt. Mech. 42 (Dec. 2002) pp.1-9.
  • "Proceedings of the ARO/DARPA Workshop on Combat System Asset Readiness", (ed.) on CD-ROM, August, 2001.
  • "Biomimetic Model of a Sponge-Spicular Optical Fiber: Mechanical Properties and Structure" (co-author), Jl. Mater. Res. 16, No.5, May, 2001.
  • "The Department of Defense Basic Research Plan', (editor), 1996 and 1997 editions, Washington, DC.
  • "Hierarchical Structures in Biology as a Guide for New Materials Technology" - National Materials Advisory Board Study Report 464, (co- author), 1994, Washington, DC.
  • "Assessment of the Status of a Biomimetic Approach to Armor", Institute for Defense Analyses Report D-1203 (August 1992)
  • "A Survey of Electromagnetic and Acoustic Effects on Behavior and Processing of Materials", with B. Tao, Institute for Defense Analyses Report D1115 (January, 1992)
  • "Mechanical Behavior of Hierarchical Synthetic Composites." in Hierarchical Structures, MRS Symp. Proc. 225, 107(1992)
  • "New Directions in Research on Dynamic Deformation of Materials," Proc. Int. Conf. on Shock Wave and High Strain Rate Phenomena,, Marcel Dekker, 35 1992) with S. S. Yau, "Fatigue of Metal-Matrix Composite Materials," Materials Science and Engineering, 82, 45 (1986) with S. S. Yau,
  • "Fatigue Crack Propagation in Polycarbonate Foams, "Materials Science and Engineering, 78, 111 (1986) with J. D. Williams, III,
  • "Deformation and Failure of Polymers at Low Temperature and High Strain Rates," in Proceedings of the International Conference on Deformation, Yield, and Fracture of Polymers, Cambridge, England (1979), 11-1 with D. I. Golland and J. B. McCombs,
  • "Effects of Size and Orientation of Crystallites upon the Strength of Polycrystals," Materials Science and Engineering Science and Engineering, 15, 274 (1974) with M. W. Taylor,
  • "Fracture Under Constrained Deformation,"Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Fracture, Munich, Germany (1973) II-522 with D. I. Golland,
  • "Characterization of Deformation Bands by Microhardness Analysis," in The Science of Hardness Testing and Its Research Applications, American Society for Metals (1973), 212 with M. W. Taylor,
  • "Delineation of Microstructures in Crystalline Polymers, Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Reactivity of Solids, Bristol, England (1972), VI-72 with W. A. Backofen,
  • "Constrained Deformation of Single Crystals, Trans. TMS-AIME, V. 242, 1587 (1968) with W. A. Backofen, "Considerations in the Growth of Iron Single Crystals," Material Research Bulletin, V.2, 871 (1967)


Dr. George Mayer was assigned to the Army Research Office-Ballston (Washington) under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) from February, 1997 until August, 1999. In that position, he was responsible for developing and recommending scientific strategies for ARO, with cognizance of Washington's other funding agencies, overall Army interests, and the interests and activities of the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (Research). He maintained cognizance of large programs, such as the MURI (the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative) Program, and other key defense programs of national and international interest (such as chemical/biological defense). He was active in initiating new cooperative interagency programs of research. He was a private consultant until June 2000.

Dr. Mayer worked with the Office of The Director, Defense Research and Engineering (Research) from December 1994 to December 1996, as an IPA employee. His duties included the assessment of the Basic Research Program of DoD, along with the development of the first two editions of the Basic Research Plan for DoD, and the concept of Strategic Research Areas of emphasis (these include: Nanoscience, Biomimetics, Smart Structures, Intelligent Systems, Compact Power Sources, and Mobile Wireless Communications), the preparation of research accomplishment documentation, and the development of requirements for special programs of DoD research, such as the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Program. He managed the $225M MURI program for two years, including three competitions for the FY1996 and 1997 topics. He also played key roles in carrying out the Reviews of the DoD Basic Research Program in 1996 and 1997. These reviews covered all program topics, from materials, to mathematics, to oceanography, to neurosciences, etc. In these activities, he headed a Research Team of senior scientists and consultants, from inside and outside the Government.

He joined the University of Pittsburgh's Materials Research Center in April 1992, as Associate Director and Research Professor in Materials Science and Engineering. In this role, he was responsible for promotion and administration of multidisciplinary research efforts of the Materials Research Center, for development of new thrusts, new associations between the MRC and industry, and for response to large new interdisciplinary research opportunities in collaboration with industry, such as the TRP and ATP programs. A major proposal on Advanced Durable Coatings, that he organized and wrote for Kennametal Inc., was funded by the ATP. Another large effort was devoted to the development of a broad program in Durable Systems for Prevention of Deterioration, which included the broad areas of high-temperature systems, biomedical applications, and infrastructure systems (the latter has been funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at a number of Pennsylvania universities, (including the University of Pittsburgh). He retired recently from the University of Pittsburgh.

He left government service in 1988, and worked as a private consultant for eight months with several clients in program and strategy development in defense science and engineering. In late 1988, he joined the Institute for Defense Analyses, and took part in a number of tasks with DARPA, including efforts for the Land Systems Office, and the Defense Sciences Office, ranging from the Balanced Technology Initiative, to novel energetic materials, and advanced armor and penetrators.

In prior professional experience, he joined the Army Research Office in 1968, with appointment as Program Manager, progressed through the level of Associate Division Director to the post of Director of the Materials Science Division. As Director, Dr. Mayer had responsibility for developing program thrusts and priorities, and for justifying the Army's research initiatives in materials science and engineering and a variety of other areas (such as vulnerability and lethality), including a major contracts program. More than one hundred contracts, including two relating to national centers of excellence (in composite materials and high loading rate phenomena), were under his jurisdiction. Many scientific and technical achievements resulted from the programs that he managed, including high power magnets based on rare earths, superplastic forming of high-strength steels, and ways to predict and reduce the environmental deterioration of metallic alloys, polymers, and composites. He had management and overview responsibilities for the work of several hundred Army scientists and engineers in sixteen offices and laboratories in the United States and abroad. Over the period of his directorship, the budget of his Division increased eight-fold.

During the past thirty-five years, he has been affiliated with four universities, taught both undergraduate and graduate courses, conducted research, supervised theses, and served on university committees. His experience in industry, coupled with a key government position and that of a university professor, have provided Dr. Mayer with extensive exposure to research and development operations at both public and private levels, as well as a perspective on factors which contribute to the success and stability of those programs. He routinely dealt with all levels of managerial, scientific, technical, financial, and legal representatives in the federal, state, and private sectors, and has been successful in developing links between government, university, and industry programs.

As a working engineer and scientist, Dr. Mayer worked on the design of the first primary flying structure comprising composite materials, the launch vehicle for the first U.S. orbital flight and subsequent space flights, novel techniques for the growth of single crystal materials in the solid state, and failure mechanisms in a many materials under a variety of environmental conditions. During the past several years, he has been active in the areas of n durability of materials, and in biomimetics.

In 1979, he became a charter member of the Senior Executive Service, the highest career technical management level in the United States Government. In this position, he represented the Department of Defense on national and international bodies such as the NAS Solid State Sciences Committee, the National Materials Advisory Board, the United States Delegations for Cooperative Scientific Exchange Programs with the Soviet Union, and national committees charged with the development of policy and guidelines for critical technologies and export control. He was also Chairman of the Joint Directors of Laboratories Advanced Materials Panel, which had oversight of all materials programs of the Department of Defense. He has served on many national and international studies, boards, and committees.

Dr. Mayer was born in Gyr, Hungary in 1934, and was raised in the USA. He received a B.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Boston University in 1957, an M.Met.E. Degree from the University of Oklahoma in Metallurgical Engineering in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy from M.I.T. in 1967.

Honors and special recognitions include: listing in American Men and Women of Science and in Who's Who, Fellow of ASM International and the American Institute of Chemists; Member of Advisory Boards at M.I.T., and of other university boards and panels. His publications include numerous articles in journals and books, as well as corporate and government papers and studies. He has also received awards from two Governors for volunteer programs that he developed in North Carolina.

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UW Department of Materials Science & Engineering

phone: (206) 543-2600
fax: (206) 543-3100