The Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Science and Engineering is given to recognize a graduate student or recent graduate who has completed an outstanding Ph.D. thesis in polymeric research.


The award consists of a $2,000 prize, a plaque, and reasonable travel expenses to the Fall National Meeting of the ACS for the presentation. While the award is a recognition of the graduate student, the research advisor will also be recognized during the award presentation.


The award was first awarded in 1991 and is operated under the Polymer Education Committee (POLYED), sponsored by the Polymer Chemistry Division and Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division. The award has been previously sponsored by Unilever (1991-2003), National Starch (2006-2008) and AzkoNobel (2008-2013). It has since been sponsored by Henkel.


This award is open to post-doctoral candidates with a completed Ph.D. thesis in research accepted by a U.S. or Canadian university during the three-year period prior to Jan. 1 of the award year.


Nominees will be judged on the basis of their contribution to the thesis research, the quality and level of innovation demonstrated, and the impact of the research on the science of synthetic polymers or biopolymers.

Nominations must be made by the thesis supervisor or by others familiar with the nominee’s work. The nominating document (5-page limit) must include: (1) the nominee’s biography, (2) a synopsis of the work, and (3) a letter of recommendation from the thesis advisor. Relevant publications based on the thesis work may be submitted. Supporting documents and testimonials may also be included. A PDF file comprising no more than 5 pages should be sent to Dr. Mary Ann Meador (NASA Glenn Research Center): maryann.meador@nasa.gov.  Please use “Henkel Graduate Award” in the subject line. The nomination email will be acknowledged if received.


About the Sponsor

Henkel values highly the development of outstanding scientists in the field of polymer science and engineering. Progress in the field is vital for the future development of high performance materials that will enhance current technologies and enable future ones. Thus, Henkel is proud to sponsor this award to demonstrate their commitment recognizing outstanding young scientists.

2017 Award Winner: Dr. John W. Colson

2015 Ph.D., Cornell University

The winner of the 2017 Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Chemistry is John W. Colson. He earned the Ph.D. in 2015 at Cornell University with Prof. William Dichtel for preparation of two-dimensional covalent organic framework polymers interfaced with single layer graphene and application of the polymers with graphene sheets as materials for optoelectronic devices. After postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago with Profs. Matthew Tirrell and Paul Nealey, Dr. Colson now works at ClostraBio, Inc., Chicago, IL.

The 2017 award will be presented at a symposium in honor of Dr. Colson at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Washington D.C. August 20-24 in the Division of Polymer Chemistry.  The award is sponsored by the Henkel Corporation and the ACS Divisions of Polymer Chemistry and Polymer Science: Materials and Engineering.  Award nominations are administered by PolyEd, the polymer education committee.

Dr. Stuart Croll

Past Winners


The previous sponsorship of this award by Unilever (1991-2003), National Starch (2006 – 2008), and AzkoNobel (2008-2013) is greatly appreciated.

Christopher Gorman
Advised by: Robert Grubbs, California Institute of Technology

Richard Register
Advised by:  Stuart Cooper, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Christopher N. Bowman
Advised by: Nicholas Peppas, Purdue University

Timothy J. Deming
Advised by:  Bruce Novak, University of California, Berkeley

Rangaramanujam M. Kannan
Advised by: Julia Kornfield, California Institute of Technology

Kristi S. Anseth
Advised by:  Christopher Bowman, University of Colorado at Boulder

D.-Y. Kim
Advised by: Sukant K. Tripathy, University of Massachusetts Lowell

James J. Watkins
Advised by:  Thomas J. McCarthy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Scott G. Gaynor
Advised by: Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Carnegie Mellon University

X. Linda Chen
Advised by:  Samson A. Jenekhe, University of Rochester

Shu Yang
Advised by: Christopher K. Ober, Cornell University

Kristi Kiick
Advised by:  David Tirrell, California Institute of Technology

Christopher Bielawski
Advised by: Robert Grubbs, California Institute of Technology

Jiaxing Huang
Advised by:  Richard Kaner, UCLA

Jason Rolland
Advised by: Joseph DiSimone, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nikolay Tsarevsky
Advised by:  Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Carnegie Mellon University

Christopher Bettinger
Advised by: Robert Langer, MIT

Haifeng Gao
Advised by:  Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Carnegie Mellon University

Rong Tong
Advised by: Jianjun Cheng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Garret Miyake
Advised by:  Eugene Chen, Colorado State University

Hua Lu
Advised by: Jianjun Cheng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Felix Kim
Advised by: Samson Jenekhe, University of Washington

Jessica Kramer
Advised by: Tim Deming, University of California, Los Angeles

Maxwell Robb
Advised by: Craig Hawker, University of California, Santa Barbara

John. W. Colson
Advised by: William Dichtel, Cornell University