Dr. Mohamed S. El-Aasser, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh University, will receive the Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings for 2002. The announcement was made today by the Officers and the Award Committee of the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) of the American Chemical Society.
Dr. El-Aasser has contributed to a wide range of topics related to polymers, colloids and coatings. His vigorous research program in these fields has been sustained for 30 years and has resulted in more than 300 publications, 380 presentations and lectures, nine patents, and six edited books. He is particularly noted for his distinguished research in the areas of polymer latexes and emulsion polymerization. In the field of polymer latexes, Dr. El-Aasser pioneered the development of mini-emulsions, stable oil/water emulsions with average droplet diameters of less than 500 nm. A number of novel approaches were invented – for example hybrid latexes were prepared by emulsification of a polymer solution in monomer followed by initiation of polymerization in mini-emulsion droplets. This approach has opened the way for making latexes from natural polymers as well as encapsulation of inorganic pigments and dyes into polymer particles.
In the general field of emulsion polymerization, Dr. El-Aasser has contributed significant developments to mechanistic understanding. He has pursued a well organized and focused research program addressing several controversial issues: 1) relative contributions of different nucleation mechanisms (Micelles, droplets, and homogeneous), 2) the fate of radicals in persulfate initiated emulsion polymerization, 3) the mechanism and rate determining step of radical entry into monomer-swollen micelles, droplets, or particles, 4) particle nucleation using oil-soluble initiators, and 5) the role of aggregation in particle formation and growth. Dr. El-Aasser has pioneered the use of reaction calorimetry to obtain reliable kinetic data, which coupled with analysis of polymerization products has led to significant breakthroughs in understanding of emulsion polymerization.
Dr. El-Aasser has also made important contributions in the areas of film formation, film properties, and the role of surfactants in surface coatings. His fundamental work in these areas has made a real contribution to ending the “witches-brew” approach that is the current approach to many coating formulation problems.
Dr. El-Aasser is also known for his role in building Lehigh’s Emulsion Polymers Institute, which he directs, into the leading organization of its kind in the world. The EPI has attained international pre-eminence, shaping the industry not only by educating future leaders and researchers but also through teaching outreach, collaborative research with industrial partners, and visiting professorships. The EPI’s annual short courses, which Dr. El-Aasser organized, have been offered for 25 years at Lehigh and also in Davos, Switzerland, attracting more than 4,000 industrial scientists and engineers. Outside Lehigh, Dr. El-Aasser has organized and chaired numerous international symposia and conferences, including the 64th and 74th ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposia, and NATO Advanced Study Institutes and Workshops on Colloids.
Dr. El-Aasser has received a number of awards including the R.R. and E.C. Hillman Award for extraordinary service at Lehigh in 1999, O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award of the American Automatic Control Council in 1998, the Best Paper Award in CCR Technology Transfer Workshop in 1987, the Eleanor and Joseph Libsch Research Award for outstanding research at Lehigh in 1988 and the NASA Inventor of the Year Award for preparation of large monodisperse latexes in space in 1985. The NASA award recognized his contributions to the design of a reactor that in 1983, in zero gravity aboard the Challenger STS-6, synthesized the first products ever made in space – polystyrene latex microspheres that were certified as a standard reference materials for calibrating microscopic objects.
Dr. El-Aasser earned B.Sc. and M.S. degrees at Alexandria University in Egypt and a Ph.D. at McGill University in Canada. He joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at Lehigh University in 1974 after serving as a post-doctoral scientist in the university’s Center for Surface and Coating Research and was promoted to a full professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1982. He is a former chairman of that department, founder and former director of Lehigh’s NSF/IUCRC Polymer Interfaces Center, and former director of the university’s Center for Polymer Science and Engineering. Dr. El-Aasser has directed the research of 55 Ph. D. students and 53 M.S. students, as well as numerous post-doctoral fellows and undergraduates. He has also served on 114 dissertation committees.
Dr. El-Aasser will receive the Tess Award from Dr. Larry Charbonneau, Chair of the PMSE Division, on Monday, August 19, 2002 during the 224th Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, MA. Dr. El-Aasser will present an Award Address at that time. An evening reception sponsored by the PMSE Division will follow the Award Symposium.
The Tess Award is presented annually by the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering in recognition of outstanding contributions to coatings science and technology. It is funded by a grant to the Division from Dr. and Mrs. Roy W. Tess. The purpose of the award is to encourage interest and progress in coatings and recognize significant contributions to the field. The Award consists of a plaque and a cash prize.