Congratulations to Elizabeth J. Opila, who has earned The American Ceramic Society Arthur L. Friedberg award in recognition of her outstanding teaching and research contributions to ceramic engineering.

Opila is the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor in Engineering at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is a professor of materials science and engineering with a courtesy appointment in mechanical and aerospace engineering.  Opila has led the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center on Advanced Materials Systems since 2016—one of only three centers in the United States.

The American Ceramic Society elected Opila fellow in 2014; she is also a fellow of the Electrochemical Society. A gifted educator, Opila piloted an undergraduate special topics course in advanced ceramics in the Fall 2020 term.

As the 2021 Friedberg honoree, Opila will deliver a lecture at the ACerS annual meeting, held in conjunction with this October’s Materials Science and Technology Technical Meeting and Exhibition. 

The ACerS Education and Professional Development Council sponsors this annual award in memory of Arthur L. Friedberg, University of Illinois professor who served as ACerS Executive Director from 1979 to 1984.

“Dr. Friedberg was my department chair when I chose ceramic engineering as my undergraduate major at the University of Illinois,” Opila said. “Due to his recruiting efforts, I am where I am today. It is an honor and a pleasure to receive this particular named award.”

Opila’s research has played a vital role in developing new materials for aircraft engines for NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. Her advanced high temperature materials research group focuses on cutting-edge ceramics, alloys, and coatings exposed to high temperatures and extreme environments such as hypersonic vehicle wing leading edges and combustion engines.

Opila leads a team from UVA and Duke in the design of new coatings to enable higher temperature turbine operation, funded by a grant from NSF’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer the Future program.

Last year, she assembled a team from UVA, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing that earned an ARPA-E grant to develop coatings for niobium alloys, part of a national effort to increase turbine engine materials’ temperature tolerance and efficiency. Additionally, she leads UVA’s contribution to two multi-university research initiatives funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

The American Ceramic Society is the premiere professional organization for the ceramics community, with a focus on scientific research, emerging technologies and applications in which inorganic nonmetallic materials play a role.