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March Newsletter: Page 5

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Dr. Marilyn Freeman Appointed Michael E. ’78 and Janet Jesanis Endowed Chair

Dr. Freeman 

Dr. Marilyn Freeman, the first Michael E. ’78 and Janet D. Jesanis Endowed Chair at Clarkson University.

Dr. Marilyn Miller Freeman has been named the first Michael E. ’78 and Janet D. Jesanis Endowed Chair at Clarkson University.

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As the Jesanis Chair, Dr. Freeman will work to grow Clarkson’s materials science program. She will also mentor young faculty who are applying for research funding.

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The Jesanis Chair was established by a generous donation from Michael E. Jesanis, Clarkson class of 1978, and his wife Janet, of Sunapee, N.H., in order to create a prestigious faculty chair and attract individuals representing STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. The Jesanis Chair recognizes Freeman for her scholarly achievements and contributions to her profession and society at large.

Growing up in rural Ohio, Freeman didn’t expect her career would lead to managing an over $2 billion annual budget in the Department of Defense. Nor did she think she’d end up at a university in an endowed position. Freeman says that she simply based her career on two principles: her desire to answer burning questions she had about science and her commitment to seize opportunities as they presented themselves – and the rest took care of itself.

After graduating from the University of Dayton (OH) in 1975 with a degree in Physical Science, she began her career as a high school teacher.  She has always maintained a passion for teaching and education.

In December 2012, Freeman capped off 34 years as a defense department researcher and administrator. For the last two and a half of those years she was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, a Senior Executive Service position.  In that role, she was in charge of 21 laboratories and Research, Development and Engineering Centers, with more than 13,000 scientists, engineers, administrative personnel and technicians dedicated to providing the best possible equipment and protection to soldiers.

Prior to that, Freeman held many positions in Army Labs, Army Headquarters and in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Her research career began at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, where she ran a thin film fabrication facility for making novel capacitors devices for weapons systems applications.  Her work in this area led her to pursue a M.S. in Materials Science at Stevens Institute of Technology (1990) and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at The University of Texas – Austin (1996).  Her dissertation was entitled “The Role of Defects in Dielectric Breakdown of Diamondlike Carbon Film.”

As the Jesanis Chair, Dr. Freeman will work to grow Clarkson’s materials science program. She will also mentor young faculty who are applying for research funding. Her experience as a government official who decided where to allocate funding will help her guide faculty in their grant writing skills.

Speaking about her government years, Freeman said, “I got to do what I had a passion for. The answer to an awful lot of the problems we see every day, and in particular the problems in the Department of Defense, come down to materials; so I have always been glad to be a Materials Scientist and Engineer.”

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