Dr. Chan received her B.Sc. (First Class Hons.) and Ph.D. degrees from the Dept. of Materials Science & Technology at Imperial College (University of London).  She joined the Lehigh faculty in 1986, and subsequently took an 18-month leave of absence at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she worked in the Mechanical Properties Group of the Ceramics Division.  Dr. Chan returned to Lehigh January 1988, and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in 1991, and to the rank of Full Professor in 1995.  Dr. Chan served as Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering 2006 - 2016.

Research Summary

            Dr. Chan is the author of over 180 publications, 165 contributed talks, and given over 110 invited presentations.  US Patents Issued 5.  Total journal citations (ISI Web of Knowledge) > 4,464, h-index ~ 41.  Her research interests include the application of reactive processing to fabricate unique ceramic/metal structures, the mechanical behavior of ceramic composites, and the role of interfacial chemistry in determining the elevated temperature mechanical behavior of ceramics.  Dr. Chan has also been actively involved in research on the processing and microstructural development of lead based relaxor ferroelectrics for transducer/actuator applications. 


Dr. Chan was inducted as a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (2005), and received Lehigh University’s 2005 Eleanor and Joseph F. Libsch Award for excellence in research.  Dr. Chan chaired the 2008 Gordon Research Conference on Solid State Ceramics.  She has received the American Ceramic Society Roland B. Snow award on five separate occasions (1986, 1990, 1992, 1999 and 2017).  In 1990, Dr. Chan was awarded the Alfred Noble Robinson Award for “outstanding performance and unusual promise of professional achievement”, and she has received Lehigh University's “Service Teaching Excellence Award” on 3 separate occasions (1991, 1992 and 2007).  Dr. Chan was named the 1992 recipient of ASM International's Bradley Stoughton Award for outstanding young faculty in the field of Materials Science & Engineering.  In 1993, Dr. Chan was awarded the Class of 1961 Professorship by Lehigh University for “distinction in teaching, research and service,” and in 1999, she was named the New Jersey Zinc Professor at Lehigh.  In 2017, Dr. Chan was awarded Lehigh University’s Hillman Award for “teaching, research work and advancing the interests of the university.”  She received a Fulbright Visiting Professorship at the Technical University of Graz, Austria, Sept. 2016 – Feb. 2017.  Dr. Chan was also one of the researchers highlighted in the book “Successful Women Ceramic and Glass Scientists and Engineers: 100 Inspirational Profiles,” by L. Madsen, Wiley, 2015.

Professional Activities

            Dr. Chan has served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Ceramic Society since 1999.  She held the position of Editor of the Journal of Materials Science 2004-2015.  Dr. Chan currently serves on the Advisory Council of several MSE departments.  She is a former Chair of the University Materials Council (2011-2012) and chaired the executive committee of the Basic Science Division of the American Ceramic Society (2010-2011). 

Helen M. Chan
New Jersey Zinc Professor
(610) 758-5554
Whitaker Lab 442
5 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015


Ph.D., and D.I.C., Materials Science and Technology, Imperial College, London, UK
B.Sc., Materials Science, First Class Honours, Imperial College, London, UK

Areas of Research

Metals and Alloys, Nanomaterials and Nanocomposites, Mechanical Characterization, Structural and Chemical Characterization, Synthesis and Processing, Ceramics, Composites and Functionally Gradient Materials, Advanced Materials and Processing