Dynamic Duo Receive MRS Medals for Bionic Self-assembled Nanoparticles

By leveraging the traits of a biological material and an inorganic material, Sharon C. Glotzer and Nicholas A. Kotov of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, along with their research colleagues, observed the spontaneous formation of “supraparticles” just as they had predicted.

They achieved a bionic structure that can do more than each material alone. The same can be said of the partnership between Glotzer’s theoretical work and Kotov’s experimental research.

In recognition of Glotzer and Kotov’s achievements made across a decade, the Materials Research Society (MRS) announces that one of the two 2014 MRS Medals awarded will be shared by Glotzer and Kotov. Sharon C. Glotzer, Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Nicholas A. Kotov, Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering, are cited for their “foundational work elucidating processes of nanoparticle self-assembly.”

They will be recognized during the Award Ceremony at the 2014 MRS Fall Meeting in Boston on December 3, 2014. According to the MRS Awards Committee, this multidisciplinary partnership is a model for materials research worldwide.

Glotzer and Kotov are each distinguished and influential scientists in their own right, yet their collaborative research has made the highest impact on the field of nanoparticle self-assembly. Glotzer provided predictive computer simulations and theoretical insight to explain the definitive experiments conducted by Kotov.

Together, they explained almost a dozen different and unexpected self-assembled nanostructures. Their latest work—in which they demonstrated the first self-organized terminal structures comprised of proteins and inorganic nanoparticles by combining cadmium telluride nanoparticles with cytochrome C protein—co-authored with research colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, is published in the May online edition of Nature Communications.

Glotzer received her BS degree in physics from the University of California–Los Angeles, in 1987 and her PhD degree in physics from Boston University in 1993. After completing her studies, she joined the Polymers Division in the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), first as an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, and then as a permanent member of the Technical Staff.

In 1994, she co-founded the Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science at NIST, serving as Deputy Director and Director, before joining the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. She holds appointments also in physics, applied physics, and macromolecular science and engineering, and is affiliated with numerous institutes and centers.

Glotzer is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society, is a Simons Investigator, and is a member of the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows program. Other awards include the American Physical Society Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award in 2000, and the Charles M.A. Stine Award from the Materials Engineering & Sciences Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2008. Glotzer serves the materials community broadly through leadership, strategic planning, and service on many national and international boards, committees, and studies, including those contributing to the creation of the Materials Genome Initiative.

Kotov received his MS (1987) and PhD (1990) degrees in chemistry from Moscow State University. On completion of his studies, he remained at Moscow State University as a research associate, before joining the Chemistry Department of Syracuse University, New York, as a postdoctoral associate. He continued his research as a visiting professor at Hamburg University, Germany, and then in the Chemistry Department at Oklahoma State University. In 2003, Kotov joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

His awards include the Gran Prix, Materials Research Society Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2006; the ACS Langmuir Lecture Award, the College of Engineering Research Excellence Award, and Caddell Award from the University of Michigan in 2007; and the Charles M.A. Stine Award for Materials Research in 2012. Kotov serves as Associate Editor for ACS Nano and as a member of several Advisory Boards for nanotechnology and materials journals.

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