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PMSE Young Investigator Symposium


The The PMSE Young Investigator Symposium is a forum to highlight the professional accomplishments of approximately 15 early-career investigators who are emerging as leaders in the field of polymer science and engineering.   These leaders will be honored at a two-day PMSE Young Investigator Symposium held once a year 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 nominees will give an invited technical talk describing their research advances at a special symposium featuring the other PMSE Young Investigators.  This special symposium will be accompanied by a networking reception with the other Young Investigators, keynote speakers, and selected invited guests from the PMSE community. 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.


PMSE defines a “Young Investigator” as an early-career scientist or engineer who is no more than 7 years beyond the start of their independent research career (beyond postdoc).  PMSE strongly encourages nominations from academic, industrial, government, and other private research organizations, both foreign and domestic, that engage in the research and development of polymeric materials.  Nominations of individuals from historically underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged.  Nominees more than 7 years past the beginning their independent careers will be considered in cases where the candidate has taken professional leave.

Postdocs and PhD graduates in the field of polymer science and engineering who are interested in future careers in academia are encouraged to apply for the “PMSE Future Faculty Scholars” program.

Nomination Process

Nomination Window

2022 nominations are open between January 1 and February 11, 2022.


Early career scientists and engineers from academia, industry, government, or private research organizations encouraged to suitable for the PMSE Young Investigator Symposium.  The candidate’s research should align within the themes of ACS and the PMSE Division.  Nominations are to be made by a research mentor (e.g., postdoc advisor, PhD advisor, manager). Self nominations are not permitted. 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 nomination should be sent as a single PDF file to the organizers with the subject line reading: “Candidate Name/YI Nomination”.  Nominations may be sent to the current organizers, Emily Pentzer [Chair] (Texas A&M), Laura Bradley (U Mass Amherst), and Chris Soles (NIST) at

Selection Process

The PMSE Young Investigator Symposium seeks to recognize those early career scientists who have had a significant impact on the field of polymer science and engineering.   The nomination letter should explain researcher’s accomplishment and provide the context for understanding its impact.  PMSE recognizes that impact can look very different depending on whether the nominee is from academia, industry, or a National laboratory.  The nomination letter should describe the importance of the nominee’s accomplishments relative to the environment they come from.  Evidence to support this impact could include (but is not limited to):

  • Publications
  • Patents
  • Shared Data
  • Product Development
  • Scientific Knowledge
  • New Measurements
  • New Materials

Selections will be made based on the difficulty of the accomplishments, the importance these accomplishments to the nominee’s professional organization, and the overall impact on the field of polymer science and engineering.

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.

2022 Young Investigator Symposium Honorees (Chicago, IL)

  • Athina Anastasaki, ETH Zurich
  • Mohammad Arjmand, University of British Columbia
  • Kelly Burke, University of Connecticut
  • Jun Chen, UCLA
  • Xi Chelsea Chen, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Lesley Chow, Lehigh University
  • Christopher Evans, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Grace Gu, University of California, Berkeley
  • Sahika Inal, King Abdullah University
  • Katelyn Languell, 3M
  • Piran Kidambi, Vanderbilt University
  • Daniel King, Hokkaido University
  • Quentin Michaudel, Texas A&M University
  • Nathaniel Park, IBM
  • Zachariah Page, Univesity of Texas, Austin
  • Christian Pester, Penn State University
  • Maxwell Robb, Caltech
  • Kenan Song, Arizona State University
  • Ran Tao, NIST
  • Muzhou Wang, Northwestern University
  • Xueju Sophie Wang, University of Connecticut
  • Rong Yang, Cornell University

Young Investigator Symposia

Universities represent affiliations at the time of the conference

Fall 2021 (Held San Diego 2022)

Beth Elacqua (Penn State)
Davita Watkins (University of Mississippi)
Rudy Wojtecki (IBM)

PMSE Young Investigator Symposium Guest Speaker
Melissa Grunlan (Texas A&M University); PMSE Past Chair

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)