Michael Kessler is the head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. An expert in the mechanics, processing, and characterization of polymer matrix composites and nanocomposites, his research interests include the development of multifunctional materials, polymer matrix composites for extreme environments, bio-renewable polymers and composites, and the evaluation of these materials using experimental mechanics and thermal analysis. These broad-based topics span the fields of organic chemistry, applied mechanics, and processing science.
From 2017 until joining the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2023, Kessler was the dean of the College of Engineering at North Dakota State University. Before that, he was the Berry Family Director and Professor of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University. Prior to beginning his academic administration experience at Washington State University in 2013, he went through the ranks as a faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University, where he was most recently the Wilkinson Professor in Interdisciplinary Engineering. At Iowa State, he received prestigious young investigator grants from the NSF (CAREER), the Army Research Office, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Kessler was the founding co-director of the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2), a National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry and University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) co-located at Washington State University, Iowa State University, and North Dakota State University that focuses on developing high-value, bio-based products from agricultural and forestry feedstock and sponsored by about 30 member companies and the NSF.
He has authored more than 260 peer-reviewed journal papers and conference proceedings, holds 20 issued U.S. patents, edited 14 books, presented over 200 talks at national and international meetings, and serves as a frequent reviewer and referee in his field. He is the past president of the North American Thermal Analysis Society (NATAS) and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society for Engineering Education, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Society of Chemistry, ASM International, and NATAS, and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.
Kessler received his PhD in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002, working as a graduate research fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His thesis research was on the development of self-healing composite materials.