Chemical engineering professor named fellow of North American Membrane Society


By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The North American Membrane Society recently named Andrew Zydney, Penn State Bayard D. Kunkle Chair and professor of chemical engineering, a fellow. He is being honored for his contributions to the society over a span of 30 years. 

NAMS, a professional society that promotes membrane science and technology, elects two to three fellows a year. Fellows are honored for their service to NAMS and “highly significant professional accomplishment in the membrane field,” according to the award specifications.

“The service component of this award goes beyond research and visibility in the community,” said Zydney, director of the National Science Foundation’s Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center and former director of the Penn State Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology. “Fellows must have helped the society advance in some substantive way.”

Becoming a member in 1990, Zydney served on the NAMS board of directors twice, first in 1998 and again in 2016. He served as vice president of the society in 2001 and became its president in 2002. He also chaired several committees, including the committee that chose fellows in years past. He organized the NAMS annual meeting in Baltimore in 1997 and in Pittsburgh in 2019. 

He received the Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology from NAMS in 2020, the most prestigious research award given by the society.

One of Zydney’s passions is encouraging graduate students to get involved in the society and supporting them in establishing a career in membrane research.

“NAMS has always been very supportive of graduate students, and we continually discuss ways to get them involved,” he said. “We want to give them a strong connection to leaders in the field, to get them out of the ‘back row’ of research talks and into the forefront of conversation.”

Fifteen years ago, NAMS set up Lunch with Legends, where graduate students meet with senior researchers for lunch during the NAMS annual meeting. Zydney continued the tradition during the meeting in Pittsburgh and has been an active participant in the lunches since their inception, sharing his insights and perspectives with dozens of graduate students. 

Lunch with Legends makes the 600-member society seem smaller and more approachable, Zydney said.

“NAMS is a very collegial group that works well together in its diverse fields,” he said. “The group has members across the sciences, including chemists, material scientists, biomedical engineers, physicists and chemical engineers.”

For 15 years, Zydney served as editor and editor in chief of the Journal of Membrane Science. He currently serves on editorial review boards for several journals, including Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Separation and Purification Reviews, Separation Science and Technology, and Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering. 

Zydney will receive the award at the society’s annual meeting in May in Tempe, Arizona. 


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