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ACS Global Outstanding Student and Mentor Awards in Polymer Science and Engineering

The ACS Global Outstanding Student and Mentor Awards in Polymer Science and Engineering recognizes the latest knowledge of polymer research of students and their mentors, one from United States and one from anywhere in the world.

2022 Award Winners

The 2022 award winners are Dr. Vivian Feig, advised by Prof. Zhenan Bao, of Standford University, and Dr. Spyridon Varlas, advised by Prof Rachel O’Reilly, of the University of Birmingham, U.K. Dr. Feig’s research work on conductive hydrogels and Dr. Varlas’s research work on tuning the physicochemical membrane characteristics of functional polymersomes will be presented to highlight their contributions to polymer science and engineering.

ACS Global Outstanding Graduate Student
Dr. Vivian Feig
Stanford University

Vivian Feig received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University, where she trained with Prof. Zhenan Bao as a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellow. Prior to graduate school, she obtained her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University, and then spent 3 years working for the ExxonMobil Chemical Company. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is co-advised by Prof. Robert Langer and Prof. Giovanni Traverso.

ACS Global Outstanding Mentor
Professor Zhenan Bao
Stanford University

Zhenan Bao is K.K. Lee Professor of Chemical Engineering, and by courtesy, a Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Bao founded the Stanford Wearable Electronics Initiate (eWEAR) in 2016 and serves as the faculty director.  Prior to joining Stanford in 2004, she was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies from 1995-2004. She received her Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1995.  She has over 700 refereed publications and over 100 US patents with a Google Scholar H-Index >185. Bao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. She is a Fellow of MRS, ACS, AAAS, SPIE, ACS PMSE and ACS POLY.
Bao was selected as Nature’s Ten people in 2015 as a “Master of Materials” for her work on artificial electronic skin. She was the inaugural recipient of the VinFuture Prize Female Innovator 2021, the ACS Chemistry of Materials Award 2022,  MRS Mid-Career Award in 2021, AICHE Alpha Chi Sigma Award 2021, ACS Central Science Disruptor and Innovator Prize in 2020, Gibbs Medal by the Chicago session of ACS in 2020, Wilhelm Exner Medal by Austrian Federal Minister of Science 2018, ACS Award on Applied Polymer Science 2017, L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in the Physical Sciences 2017, AICHE Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering in 2014, ACS Carl Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award in 2013, ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2011, Royal Society of Chemistry Beilby Medal and Prize in 2009, IUPAC Creativity in Applied Polymer Science Prize in 2008.  Bao is a co-founder and on the Board of Directors for C3 Nano and PyrAmes, both are silicon-valley venture funded start-ups. She serves as an advising Partner for Fusion Venture Capital.

ACS Global Outstanding Graduate Student
Dr. Spyridon Varlas
University of Birmingham, U.K.

Spyridon Varlas holds a B.Sc. (Chemistry) and an M.Sc. (Polymer Science) from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. Spyridon received his Ph.D. (Chemistry) from the University of Birmingham, working on polymerization-induced self-assembly of bio-mimicking polymersomes with tunable membrane properties under the supervision of Prof. Rachel K. O’Reilly. He then joined the group of Prof. Giuseppe Battaglia at UCL as a Research Fellow and, currently, he is a Research Associate within the group of Prof. Steven P. Armes at the University of Sheffield. Spyridon has received the Macro Group UK 2020 Jon Weaver Prize, the 2021 Katharine Burr Blodgett Award, the 2020/21 Zouhair Atassi PhD Prize and has been recently selected as a 2022 PMSE Future Faculty Scholar.

ACS Global Outstanding Mentor
Professor Rachel O’Reilly
University of Birmingham, U.K.

Rachel O’Reilly is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Head of School at the University of Birmingham. She got her first degree from the University of Cambridge and went on to complete her PhD at Imperial College, London in 2003 with Professor Vernon Gibson. She then moved to the US to under the joint direction of Professors Craig J. Hawker and Karen L. Wooley. In 2006 she took up a Royal Society Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and then in 2009 she moved to the University of Warwick and in 2012 was promoted to full professor. She moved to Birmingham in 2018. Her group undertakes research in the area of catalysis, responsive polymers, nanostructure characterization and DNA nanomaterials. She has published over 200 papers to date and has received a number of awards, including the IUPAC-Samsung young polymer scientist award in 2012, and in 2013 the American Chemical Society Mark Young Polymer Scientist award. In 2017 she was awarded the Macromolecules/Biomacromolecules young investigator award from the ACS in recognition of her innovative research in polymer science and in 2020 the RSC Corday-Morgan Prize. She is an associate editor for JACS and a review editor for Science.

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Award Details

Each of the two student award winners will receive a $7,500 cash prize and a commemorative plaque to be presented at the CME Symposium, and when possible in the PMSE Division Awards Reception, in the selected ACS National Meeting of the Award year.


Nominees should have contributed significant advances to polymer science and engineering research. Nomination packages should follow package submission guidelines.

Award Selection

The selected winners will be selected by a committee as appointed by the nomination chair.

Past Recipients

Nominations and Award Process

Rules of Eligibility

Awards are co-organized by CME and the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division of the American Chemical Society to recognize graduate students within one year to graduation or a recent graduate who has completed an outstanding thesis in polymer research accepted by a university during the three-year period prior to January 1 of the award year.

Nominations Package

The students and mentors to be recognized must have made significant contributions to polymer science and engineering. There are no fees to make a nomination. Present members of the Board of Directors of CME and PMSE, or the award selection committee members, and their respective staff and contractors, are ineligible for this award. The award committee of PMSE will select the recipient.

Nominations must be made by the university thesis supervisor or by others familiar with the nominee’s work. Nominating documents must be in English and include the nominee’s biography (full CV), a synopsis of the work, a letter of recommendation from the thesis advisor, up to two supporting documents (e.g. additional letters of recommendation from collaborators or thesis-relevant publications), and a passport valid for two years and eligibility for USA entry visa. Nominees will be judged by a selection committee for the quality and the impact of the research. 

A PDF file of the nomination package should be sent via email by October 31 prior to the award year to Honggang Cui at (email). For more information, please contact: Honggang Cui, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, 221 Maryland Hall, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, United States. Phone: +001-(410)-516-6878

The deadline is February 15 for nomination packages.

Award Selection Process

The selected winners will be selected by a committee as appointed by the nomination chair. The committee is managed by PMSE for each award year and consists of members in good standing withe PMSE Division.

Conference Seminar and Award Ceremony

Plaque are to be presented at the CME Symposium, and when possible in the PMSE Division Awards Reception, in the selected ACS National Meeting of the Award year. The mentor of the student will receive a plaque and be recognized in the promotional materials. The Award does not cover any expenses for the student or mentor who attend the meeting. An eligible mentor is the thesis advisor, the department chair, the university president, or an officer of the country’s chemical society. 

Full List of Award Winners

2020 – Present

Austin Evans
Professor William Ditchel (Advisor)
Northwestern University

Qi Zhang
Professor He Tian (Advisor, Graduate)
East China University of Science and Technology
Professor Ben Feringa (Advisor, Post Graduate)
University of Groningen

Post Summary


Dr. Seunghyun Sim
Prof. Takuzo Aida (Advisor)
University of Tokyo

Bas van Genabeek
Prof. E.W. (Bert) Meijer (Advisor)
Eindhoven University of Technology

Post Summary