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Texas A&M Chemist Wins Prestigious Prize

By: Texas A&M
By: Texas A&M

TEXAS A&M - Karen L. Wooley, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected as one of three international recipients of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Centenary Prize for 2014.
The Centenary Prize is awarded annually to outstanding chemists from overseas who also are exceptional communicators and, as such, are invited to deliver lectures on their award-winning research within the British Isles during the next academic year. It was founded in 1947 to commemorate the centenary of what was then known as the Chemical Society in 1841.

Wooley is cited “for transforming the field of polymer chemistry through the adaptation of synthetic organic chemistry concepts and the concept of macromolecular engineering.” In addition to an invited lectureship opportunity, she will receive £5000, a medal and a certificate.

The Centenary Prize is part of a broader overall recognition portfolio that includes more than 60 prizes and awards designed to reward outstanding work carried out by scientists in specialized areas spanning the breadth of the chemical sciences, from research and education to business and industry.

“Each year we present prizes and awards to chemical scientists who have made a considerable contribution, be that in their area of research, in industry or academia,” said Dr. Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. “We’re working to shape the future of the chemical sciences for the benefit of science and humanity, and these prizes and awards give recognition to true excellence in their fields. Our winners can be very proud to follow in the footsteps of some of the most influential and important chemical scientists in history.”

Wooley, who joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty as holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 2009, is widely respected as a top international chemist in the burgeoning field of materials and polymer chemistry. In March, she was recognized as the first woman to receive the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry, a prestigious accolade honoring outstanding fundamental contributions and achievements toward addressing global needs for advanced polymer systems and materials. Earlier this year, she also was granted a second joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Wooley’s 30-member research group spans seven distinct project areas and has an annual budget of more than $1.5 million, all dedicated toward some pioneering facet of organic polymer-based chemistry focused on creating new matter at the nanoscale level. For almost nine years, she has served as the director of a $33 million Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology (PEN) supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The award, which runs through 2015, supports nanoparticle-focused research expected to dramatically alter the future of medical practice with regard to detection, diagnosis and treatment of lung and cardiovascular diseases.

Wooley currently is as an associate editor for the “Journal of the American Chemical Society” and chair of the National Institutes of Health NANO study section, among many other advisory roles within the broader scientific community.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community for advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With more than 49,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, the group is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists — a not-for-profit organization with 170 years of history and an international vision of the future that promotes, supports and celebrates chemistry while working to shape the future of the chemical sciences to benefit both science and humanity.


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