In the name of progress
Just days after winning the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, the Department of Energy’s highest honor for mid-career scientists, Rachel Segalmanprofessor and chair of the department of chemical engineering at UC Santa Barbara, learned that she had received another great honor – the Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Advancement in Chemical Engineering, among the most prestigious awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
The AIChE annually awards the Professional Progress Award in recognition of a researcher’s sustained intellectual leadership and significant contributions to the field of chemical engineering. Segalman was recognized for “pioneering studies of functional soft materials, including semiconducting block polymers, polymeric ionic liquids, and hybrid thermoelectric materials.”
“Like the Lawrence Award, the Acrivos Professional Progress Award is special because some of my personal heroes have won it,” Segalman said, referring to Frances Arnold (2004) and Matthew Tirrell (1998), the former dean from the College of Engineering at UCSB. “While the Lawrence Award is special because of its stature in the U.S. government, the Acrivos Professional Progress is recognition from my peers.”
Segalman’s research focuses on controlling the self-assembly, structure and properties of functional polymers. Structural control of soft matter through microscopic length scales is a key tool for optimizing properties in applications ranging from solar and thermal energy to biomaterials.
An elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society, Segalman’s work has provided key insights into the molecular basis of the thermoelectric effect in organic molecules, an essential step for further progress. in organic thermoelectrics, a field in which it has become a pioneer thanks to its fundamental advances in the science of molecular thermoelectrics and the engineering of their design.
Segalman has also established important links between the molecular and mesoscale structure of polymers and their ability to transport electronic and ionic charges, more recently demonstrating superionic conduction in polymers. She is the Associate Director of Materials for Water and Energy Systems, which seeks to make similar connections with the application to the purification of water from perniciously contaminated sources.
“We are extremely proud to congratulate Rachel Segalman on receiving one of the highest honors bestowed in chemical engineering,” said Tresa Pollock, Acting Dean of the College of Engineering and Alcoa Professor Emeritus of Materials. “The recognition by his peers for his pioneering studies on functional soft materials and their impact in the disciplines of chemical engineering and materials science is well deserved.”
Acrivos is an internationally renowned educator and researcher who has helped transform the field of chemical engineering, particularly in the areas of fluid mechanics, heat, and mass transfer. His research on viscous fluid flow has helped model, analyze and design chemical and fluid processes, with applications in industries such as microelectronics and oil recovery.
Segalman briefly shared an office with Acrivos while she was an assistant professor at UC Berkeley and he was on sabbatical.
“He was visiting Berkeley for my first few months in college,” she recalled. “His mentorship and especially his warmth and welcome to academia left a lasting impression on my career – to this day, they remind me how important that first welcome is in a career. So it is particularly exciting to receive this award that bears his name.
Segalman will receive the award in November, in an honors ceremony at the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting.