PMSE Young Investigator Symposium


The goal of this annual symposium is to highlight and provide a forum for ~15 early-career emerging leaders who have made significant contributions in their respective fields within polymer materials science and engineering. Example research areas include synthesis, processing, characterization, physics, and engineering of macromolecular materials. The two-day PMSE symposium is held during the Fall National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (location changes annually).

The 2021 Symposium will be held at the Spring 2022 ACS Meeting.


Selected “PMSE Young Investigators” will each provide a technical talk describing their recent research advances. Additionally, they will be invited to participate in a networking reception with other Young Investigators, keynote speakers, and selected invited guests from all sectors. The PMSE Young Polymer Scientists and Engineering Committee provides oversight to the coordination of the symposium.


The inaugural symposium was held in 2011. The symposium also features “Special Lectures” by keynote speakers who are established leaders and role models for young investigators.


The award is granted to emerging or established researchers, and nominations are welcome from all sectors of industry, government and academia. Individuals from underrepresented groups are highly encouraged to apply.

Postdocs working at PhD-granting institutions are eligible as “PMSE Future Faculty Scholars”.

Nomination Process

Nomination Window

Nominations are open between January 1 and February 1 of the year of the Fall symposium. Nominations for 2021 YIS will be open through March 1, 2021.


Early career scientists and engineers from academia, national labs, and industry who are within no more than 7 years of beginning their independent career will be selected as “PMSE Young Investigators” following a nomination process. The candidate’s research must align within the themes of the PMSE division. Nominations are to be made by a research mentor (e.g., postdoc advisor, PhD advisor, manager). The nomination package consists of a single PDF containing the following:

(1) full CV
(2) title/abstract of the tentative presentation (~300 words)
(3) nomination letter from the mentor (maximum 2 pages)

The nominating mentor may send the PDF file to the organizers with the subject line reading: “Candidate Name/YI Nomination”.  Nominations may be sent to the current organizers, Prof. Davita Watkins (University of Mississippi), Dr. Rudy Wojtecki (IBM), and Prof. Beth Elacqua (Penn State) at

Selection Process

Selection of “PMSE Young Investigators” will be made by organizers & ad hoc members of the selection committee based on information provided in the nomination package, including research innovation and productivity during their independent career, demonstrated commitment to service to the technical community, and enthusiasm of mentor nomination letter.

In case of “leave,” candidates who are >7 years of beginning their independent careers will be considered.

Young Investigator Symposia

Universities represent affiliations at the time of the conference

Fall 2021 (Atlanta-Virtual / San Diego 2022)


  • Beth Elacqua (Penn State)
  • David Watkins (University of Mississippi)
  • Rudy Wojtecki (IBM)
Awardee NameAffiliation
Allie Obermeyer Columbia University
Lauren ZarzarPennsylvania State University
Chenfeng KeDartmouth College
Matthew B. BakerMaastricht University, The Netherlands
Elizabeth J. BrisboisUniversity of Georgia
Samanvaya SrivastavaUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Mao ChenFudan University, China
Sidi A. BencherifNortheastern University
Leila DeraviNortheastern University
Kun (Kelvin) FuUniverstiy of Delaware
Nagarjuna GavvalapalliGeorgetown University
Pengfei CaoOak Ridge National Lab
Jia NiuBoston College
Haritz SardonUniversity of Basque Country
Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV-EHU), Spain

Fall 2020 (San Francisco / Virtual)

Rudy Wojtecki (IBM)
Yan Xia (Stanford)

Keynote Speakers

  • Jeff Moore (U Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Tim Swager (MIT)
  • Paula Hammond (MIT) (not confirmed)

PMSE Young Investigators

  • Jonathan Barnes (Washington University St. Louis)
  • Blair Brettmann (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Melanie Chiu (Stony Brook University)
  • Hoyong Chung (Florida State)
  • Reza Foudazi (New Mexico State)
  • Xiaodan Gu (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Zachary Hudson (University of British Columbia)
  • Hua Lu (Peking University)
  • Jianguo Mei (Purdue University)
  • Jian Qin (Stanford)
  • Jonathan Rivnay (Northwestern)
  • Jennifer Schaefer (Notre Dame)
  • Charles Sing (University of Illinois, UC)
  • Morgan Stefik (University of South Carolina)
  • Matthew Webber (Notre Dame)

Fall 2019 (San Diego)


Aaron Esser-Kahn (U Chicago)
Davita Watkins (U Mississippi)

Keynote Speakers

  • Geoffrey Coates (Cornell U)
  • Elizabeth Gillies (U Western Ontario)
  • Todd Emrick (U Massachusetts Amherst)

Young Investigators

  • Eric Appel (Stanford)
  • Christopher Bates (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Gaurav Giri (U Virginia)
  • Damien Guironnet (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Will Gutekunst (Georgia Tech)
  • Robert Hickey (Pennsylvania State U)
  • Julia Kalow (Northwestern U)
  • Nathalie Lavoine (North Carolina State U)
  • Frank Leibfarth (U North Carolina)
  • Andrew Magenau (Drexel U)
  • Adrianne Rosales (U Texas at Austin)
  • Ellen Sletten (UCLA)
  • Zhiting Tian (Cornell U)
  • Mingjiang Zhong (Yale)

Fall 2018 (Boston)


Emily Pentzer (Case Western Reserve University)
Cole DeForest (University of Washington)

Keynote Speakers

  • Marc Hillmyer (University of Minnesota)
  • Matthew Becker (University of Akron)
  • Zhenan Bao (Stanford)
  • Stuart Rowan (University of Chicago)

PMSE Young Investigators

  • Chris Alabi (Cornell)
  • Matthias Barz (Mainz)
  • Guosong Chen (Fudan)
  • Kai Chen (Carbon 3D)
  • Eliaf Egap (Rice)
  • Adam Ekenseair (Northeastern)
  • Mike Hore (Case Western Reserve)
  • Justin Kennemur (Florida State)
  • Chris Kloxin (Delaware)
  • Dominik Konkolewicz (Miami University Ohio)
  • Guoliang (Greg) Liu (Virginia Tech)
  • John Matson (Virginia Tech)
  • Psaras McGrier (Ohio State)
  • Katherine Mirica (Dartmouth)
  • Ed Palermo (RPI)
  • Victoria Piunova (IBM)
  • Jon Pokorski (UC San Diego)
  • Tim Scott (Michigan)
  • Stefanie Sydlik (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Davita Watkins (Mississippi)
  • Ke Zhang (Northeastern)

Fall 2017 (San Francisco)


Jeannette M. Garcia (IBM Research)
Luis Campos (Columbia University)

Keynote Speakers

  • Karen Wooley (Texas A&M)
  • Craig Hawker (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Joe DeSimone (Carbon)
  • Carolyn Bertozzi (Stanford)

PMSE Young Investigators

  • Roey Amir (Tel Aviv U)
  • Jeffrey Byers (Boston College)
  • Cole DeForest (Washington)
  • Aaron Esser-Kahn (UC Irvine)
  • Lei Fang (Texas A&M)
  • Brett Fors (Cornell)
  • Kamil Godula (UC San Diego)
  • Matthew Kiesewetter (U Rhode Island)
  • Rebekka Klaussen (Johns Hopkins)
  • April Kloxin (Delaware)
  • Yi Liu (Molecular Foundry)
  • Laetitia Mespouille (U Mons, Belgium)
  • Cecile Monteaux (CNRS ESPCI, France)
  • Deidre O’Carrol (Rutgers)
  • Grace O’Connell (UC Berkeley)
  • Michelle O’Malley (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Emily Pentzer (Case Western Reserve)
  • Javier Read de Alaniz (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Megan Robertson (U Houston)
  • Dwight Seferos (U Toronto)
  • Rudy Wojtecki (IBM)
  • Yan Xia (Stanford)