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Smith Named to Head NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory

Leslie E. Smith, a nearly 30-year veteran of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has been appointed as the director of the agency’s Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory by NIST Director Ray Kammer. Dale Hall, acting MSEL director since March 1997, will resume his duties as the lab’s deputy director.

Smith began work at the National Bureau of Standards (NIST’s predecessor until 1988) as a summer student after high school. He joined the agency in 1969 on a permanent basis as a physical chemist and has served NIST in a number of key roles since then. These include chief of the Polymers Division; director of the NIST Program Office; acting associate director of NIST; and, most recently, a second tour as chief of the Polymers Division.

Smith’s research interests have focused primarily on the physical interactions of polymers with other materials and the behavior of polymers in thin films. In particular, he has investigated the use of polymers in synthetic medical implants and in magnetic recording media. From 1985-1992, Smith served as the U.S. editor for the international journal, Polymer Communications.

A native of New York City, Smith earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from the Case Institute of Technology and his doctorate in chemistry from the Catholic University of America.

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released April 13, 1998, Updated January 8, 2018