There are, perhaps, three components that are vital to the success of any scientiﬁc quest. They are 1) creative thinking and courageous experimentation of researchers in the ﬁeld, 2) an amalgamation of this research with approaches of the broader research community (which often creates the most exciting ideas), and, ﬁnally, 3) practical applications of the research that put it in the broader perspective of our lives. All of these components are distinctive features of four symposia that were held at the Fall MRS 2010 meeting in Boston and are brought together in this volume, namely, Symposium SS: “Advanced Imaging and Scattering Techniques for In Situ Studies”, TT: "In Situ X-Ray Synchrotron Radiation Spectroscopies in Energy-Related Materials Science and Heterogeneous Catalysis”, UU: “Real-Time Studies of Evolving Thin Films and Interfaces” and VV: “Novel Development and Applications of Scanning Probe Microscopy.” A major unifying theme for these symposia is exploration of intricate properties of materials on the near-to-atomic length scale in the immediate vicinity of the free surface or at interfaces between materials. These symposia focus on various aspects and approaches of exploration of surfaces and interfaces from more traditional electron and x-ray scattering (the focus of symposia SS, TT, and UU) to more recent and rapidly advancing scanning probe microscopy, or SPM (Symposium VV). Together, they cover a ﬁeld of great importance across the broad MRS community. Of tremendous interest in modern material science, this key aspect of nanotechnology considers how interfaces and surfaces help to determine properties and functionalities of a wide range of materials, including oxides, metals and nanoparticles. Monitoring evolving surfaces in real time is a prerequisite for mastering the evolution process itself. Furthermore, surfaces and interfaces often display surprising properties that are qualitatively different from those of the corresponding bulk materials. Controlling and tailoring the physical properties at the interfaces between different materials on the atomic scale can therefore result in real scientiﬁc breakthroughs. Research in atomic control when fabricating interfaces and surfaces will help in understanding important structure-property relationships as well as in improving the design of nano-devices. Another aspect of this research is developing techniques to probe the structure and/or the properties of evolving surfaces and interfaces in environments where they are created and used. Symposium UU was a forum for researchers who use or develop in-situ characterization and monitoring techniques for thin ﬁlms, surfaces and interfaces. Experts in the ﬁelds of real-time 1) scattering (e.g., XRD and TEM), 2) imaging (e.g., SPM) and 3) spectroscopy (e.g., XPS) came together to report on their respective progress and/or new developments. Different kinds of probes, such as light in a wide energy spectrum, electrons and scanning probes, and their various capabilities to adapt, case by case, to the very peculiar working conditions required for this research emerged. Also, a particular opportunity was given for researchers to show prospects for applications of novel techniques to real-time analysis.