Embracing life's surprises

Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) 2023 Solutions Grant recipient and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) associate professor of metallurgy, Cem Tasan discusses his background and current work in metallurgy, unexpected results in life and in the lab and embracing uncertainty.

“As they say, science is like taking a walk in the hills,” Tasan says. “You see the mountain far away, and that’s where you want to go, but as you head toward it, you see a beautiful flower on a different pathway, so you check that out. That happens so often to [my group]. It’s exciting.”


Experiments often yield unexpected results. In research and in life, MIT Associate Professor Cem Tasan has learned to embrace that uncertainty.

“Very often we start with an idea or a hypothesis, and to test that idea we design experiments, and when we run the experiments, we see something totally different,” says Tasan, the newly tenured Thomas B. King Associate Professor of Metallurgy.

Tasan has used those surprises to explore the boundaries of metallurgy and solid mechanics, gleaning new insights into how metals break and deform, and designing new kinds of damage-resistant alloys.

MIT News