Gregory Herman, Ph.D. ’85
Gregory S. Herman held senior technical positions at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Hewlett-Packard, and Sharp Laboratories of America. He was the head of the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering (CBEE) at Oregon State University and holds the endowed position of the James and Shirley Kuse Chair in Chemical Engineering.
Currently, he is a professor of Chemical Engineering at CBEE and the Director of the site for the National Science Foundation’s Northwest Nanotechnology Infrastructure program at Oregon State. He has over 120 publications, 65 patents, and is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society.
He has received awards related to his research and innovations including, the Sharp Laboratories of America Invention of the Year, the TechConnect Innovation Award, and the Oregon State College of Engineering Research Collaboration and Research awards. He holds several key patents for oxide semiconductor compositions for thin film transistor applications, and these materials are currently being used in cell phones and televisions. His research interests are focused on understanding the detailed mechanisms of surface reactions to advance electronic devices, nanomanufacturing, catalysis, and biosensing.
He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, and his doctorate in Physical Chemistry from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.
Reflecting on UW-Parkside
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
I applied to four or five universities in Wisconsin for my undergraduate education. Location, size, and focus on a liberal arts education led me to choose UW-Parkside. Originally my goal was to spend the first two years at UW-Parkside, and then transfer to UW-Madison to get my degree in Chemical Engineering. I found that I appreciated the small class sizes at UW-Parkside and enjoyed the Chemistry curriculum and stayed at UW-Parkside.
What activities were you involved in at UW-Parkside?
I was primarily involved with the Chemistry Club, which had activities related to career advice, seminar speakers for professional development, and travel to chemistry conferences. We even had a chemistry faculty versus chemistry students’ basketball game prior to a men’s basketball game. Was fun and we let the faculty win so they could preserve their egos.
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
I was fortunate that the Foreign Film Series started during my time at UW-Parkside. My friend and I bought season tickets for at least one year. I believe that the Foreign Film Series was what initially inspired me to learn about different cultures and travel the world.
Professional and Personal Highlights
What has been one of the top highlights of your career?
I am most proud of my mentorship of students throughout my career, where I can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. My research group has had seventeen graduate students and twenty-seven undergraduate students. Each has done inspiring research, published impactful scientific papers, and have gone on to exciting positions in industry and national laboratories. It is very satisfying to see these students be successful in their careers.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life or your career and why?
My wife, Thuy Tran, has had the biggest influence on both my career and life. I met Thuy at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa when we were both brand new graduate students. Thuy helped me in my classes, taught me about different cultures, further inspired my interest in travel, and taught me to better prioritize work-life balance. She supported me when I looked to change my careers from the national laboratory, to industry, and currently academia.
What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy flyfishing, whether it is tracking down steelhead in rivers throughout Oregon or bonefish and papio offshore in Hawaii. Hooking these fish leads to a rush of adrenaline, while releasing them gives a sense of satisfaction.
What is something that would surprise us about you?
My future wife won a trip to the Big Island to watch the Ironman triathlon and invited me to come with. Watching the Ironman inspired me to take up running, biking, and swimming. I never had the time, or dedication, to train for an Ironman distance triathlon, but have competed in Olympic length triathlons. It was a great way to be outdoors year-round and enjoy many of the things that Hawaii has to offer.
Advice from Gregory
What advice do you have for current UW-Parkside Students?
Get to know your faculty, not just one but all of them. Talk to them about your courses and their careers. Listen to their advice and ask for information about opportunities at UW-Parkside and elsewhere. Faculty have chosen this career primarily because they are interested in your success.