Materials Research Organizes Under New Institute

A man with gloves conducts materials research in front of metallic equipment.
Michael Pavel, a student in the materials science interdisciplinary doctorate program, loads a sample in the Local Electron Atom Probe, one of UA’s recent upgraded instruments in the Alabama Analytical Research Center.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A new institute at The University of Alabama will boost efforts from across campus in materials science and materials engineering.

The Alabama Materials Institute recognizes the University’s established reputation at the forefront of materials-centric activities, crossing multiple departments and colleges. It joins three other campus institutes organized around broad research themes of water, transportation and human life that leverage campus expertise to enhance discovery and education.

“The Alabama Materials Institute will be a way to bring the entire University together to solve foundational materials research problems to support advanced endeavors in high performance applications,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, interim vice president for research and economic development. “This institute will further elevate UA in our state’s automotive, aerospace and federal defense sectors by providing a nexus between them and our University.” 

Materials Research Leadership

A researcher at The University of Alabama sits in front of a powerful micrsoscap.
Gregory Thompson in the Alabama Analytical Research Center

Dr. Gregory Thompson, Distinguished University Research Professor, is the founding executive director. He has worked at UA for two decades in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. He also served as the director for the materials science interdisciplinary doctoral program for the past decade. During his time as director student enrollment quadrupled.

Thompson is internationally recognized as an expert in materials characterization and processing with over 270 peer-reviewed papers in his field.

“He is widely respected and will bring enormous recognition to the Alabama Materials Institute,” Parrish said.

Advanced Materials Facilities

AMI will house the core facilities of the Alabama Analytical Research Center. It is undergoing a $10 million reinvestment to bring the most advanced electron and ion microscopes in the world to the campus.

With the upgrades, the institute will bring together teams of multidisciplinary faculty, staff and students in the discovery and engineering of materials that solve pressing needs in energy, sustainability, health and national defense.

“The University of Alabama has outstanding faculty in materials research. By establishing the Alabama Materials Institute, we can effectively bring together this exceptional talent from various disciplines to create new opportunities and elevate the materials profile of our university to the state, region and nation,” Thompson said. “The state of Alabama has a strong materials economy, and this institute will ensure connectivity and engagement of our faculty and the workforce development of our students to these sectors and other related areas.”

At the outset, AMI’s core analytical facilities serve more than 63 faculty member research groups from 12 different departments that span four colleges. With nearly 160 active projects totaling $20 million in annual research awards, AMI contributes to the growing research enterprise at UA.

AMI Town Hall

Learn more about AMI and how to engage with it on Monday, Jan. 8. from 10 – 11 a.m. in 1000 Tom Bevill Building.

Visit the AMI website for more information,

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, 205-348-4328,