Penn State-led team receives American Chemical Society research award

January 4, 2023

By Mariah R. Lucas

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State-led research team received the 2023 Cooperative Research Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) for their scientific advancements in water treatment membranes and polymer thin films.

A team of six researchers from academia and industry was honored with the award. The team members are Enrique Gomez, Penn State professor of chemical engineering and of materials science and engineering; former Penn State doctoral student Tyler Culp, Dow Chemical Company; former Penn State chemical engineering faculty member Manish Kumar, the University of Texas at Austin; Mou Paul and Abhishek Roy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Jeffrey Wilbur, DuPont Water Solutions.

“This core team from Penn State, UT Austin, Dow and Dupont have broken new ground in the understanding of water treatment membranes and the fundamental polymer science and engineering concepts that are needed to decode the structure-function relationships in these materials,” a nominator's support letter for the award read. “Through the use of new analytical techniques and deep insights into how the chemistry and processing of the materials creates the unique structure of these membranes, this team has identified new directions for understanding material performance and built the knowledge base for developing next-generation water purification technologies.”

The researchers were honored for papers published in Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and ACS Macro Letters.

“This body of work is an excellent example of collaborative work that elucidated previously not understood aspects of the structure of polymer thin films and membranes,” wrote an evaluator of the team. “The impact of the produced publications highlights the breadth and depth of the discoveries stemming from this collaboration.”

The team will receive the Cooperative Research Award during an awards symposium at the March 2023 PMSE meeting in Indianapolis.


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