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2023 Roy Tess Award to Peter Zarras

Dr. Peter Zarras received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Adelphi University (1984) (Garden City, N.Y.), M.S. degree in Chemistry from the Polytechnic University (1989) (Brooklyn, N.Y., now referred to as New York University Tandon School of Engineering), and Ph.D. degree in Polymer Chemistry (1996) from the Polytechnic University. For his Ph.D. degree, Dr. Zarras investigated ionene-based polymers as bile-acid sequestering agents under the direction of Professor Otto Vogl. Upon completion of his Ph.D., Dr. Zarras received an ASEE post-doctoral fellowship at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), China Lake, CA.  There he investigated conductive polymers for corrosion-inhibiting properties on aluminum alloys and light-emitting diodes under the mentorship of Dr. John D. Stenger-Smith.

Upon completion of his post-doctoral research at the NAWCWD, Dr. Zarras was hired as a full-time Department of Navy research chemist. His research interests cover the broad spectrum of materials development and coating sciences focusing on synthetic/organic polymer chemistry. Through innovative design methods, Dr. Zarras has synthesized new polymers and coatings. These materials have been investigated for applications such as corrosion-inhibition, ice-release, fire-suppression, corrosion sensing-responding, rain-erosion resistance, bonding agents for energetics (surface coatings), passivating, tribological coatings for wear resistance, films for light-emitting diodes, and optical (Mach-Zehnder Interferometer) devices.

Dr. Peter Zarras is an internationally recognized expert in the field of synthetic/organic polymer chemistry with a focus on coatings for military applications. He has led and coordinated NAWCWD research programs to develop novel coatings with partners from the Department of Defense (Navy/Marines, Army, and Air Force), Department of Energy, NASA, industry, and academia. Through his leadership and scientific skills, he has transitioned polymer coatings from the laboratory to field-testing in military environments.

Provided below are examples of Dr. Peter Zarras’ polymer coating research.

  • Pioneered the development of innovative conductive polymers that can replace hexavalent chromium pretreatments in military coating applications. This work has demonstrated that conductive polymers can survive military corrosive environments. These coatings demonstrated corrosion protection meeting military specifications for alternatives to hexavalent chromium pretreatments.  
  • Developed green processing methods for polymer coating systems that reduce or eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) during the deposition process.
  • Developed alternatives to cadmium-based coatings using conductive polymer coatings in wear resistant applications.
  • Collaborated with industry on military applications for polymer coatings. He recently led a joint program between industry and government to transition an environmentally benign sol-gel polymer coating from laboratory testing to field-testing on military vehicles.  This coating developed by NAWCWD’s industrial partner, successfully met the TT-C-490 mil spec requirements.  

Dr. Zarras has published over 110 scientific papers and has been awarded 12 patents. He has been on the editorial review board for the Journal of Coating Technology and Research since 2015. Dr. Zarras was a co-editor of three books on the topics of polymer coatings and environmentally green coatings.  

  • Eds. P. Zarras, M.D. Soucek, A. Tiwari, “Handbook of Waterborne Coatings,” 2020 Elsevier Publishers
  • Eds. P. Zarras, T. Wood, B. Richey, B.C. Benicewicz, “New Developments in Coatings Technology,” 2007 ACS Symposium Series 962
  • Eds. P. Zarras, J.D. Stenger-Smith, Y. Wei, “Electroactive Polymers for Corrosion Control,” 2003 ACS Symposium Series 843

Dr. Peter Zarras has received several honors/awards for his contributions to the NAWCWD warfighter and recognition from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for his service.

  • NAWCWD 2021 Associate Fellow
  • NAWCWD 2020 Innovation Challenge Award 
  • NAWCWD 2017 Michelson Laboratory Award
  • Recognition from the ACS for service as a Program Chair of the 35th Western Regional Meeting, October 6-8, 1999; 2016 – 20 year service as a member of the Council of the ACS; 2012 Certificate of Appreciation for service on MAC Committee; and the 2004 ACS Council Service Recognition on CEPA Committee

Dr. Zarras has been very involved in national and international scientific conferences as both an organizer and speaker. He has given over 50 invited/contributed presentations at scientific conferences. In addition, Dr. Zarras has organized or co-organized numerous coatings symposia for the ACS at the national and regional level. He was a co-organizer of the Smart Coatings Conference for ten years (2011-2020). He has also co-organized symposia on polymers for marine applications at the Pacific Polymer Federation Conferences in Hawaii.

Dr. Peter Zarras