From University of Delaware (US) : “A ‘hat trick’ of honors for UD’s Jayaraman”

U Delaware bloc

From University of Delaware (US)

August 23, 2021
Beth Miller

Three societies recognize her contributions to physics, chemistry, chemical engineering.

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Photo by Evan Krape
In the past year, Arthi Jayaraman, Centennial Term Professor for Excellence in Research and Education in the College of Engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society (US), won an Impact Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (US) and was appointed deputy editor of a journal published by the American Chemical Society (US).

With a passion for polymer research and teaching, Arthi Jayaraman of the University of Delaware often finds herself wearing a lot of hats — figuratively, at least.

“My research has me putting on different hats,” said Jayaraman, Centennial Term Professor for Excellence in Research and Education in the College of Engineering. “Sometimes I have to put on the physicist hat, sometimes the chemist hat, and always the engineering hat.”

In the past year, professional societies in all three disciplines have recognized her work and its value to their field.

The American Physical Society, which includes many of the world’s most prominent physicists, in March named Jayaraman as a fellow, an honor bestowed on those who have made exceptional contributions to physics. Such fellowships are awarded to fewer than 0.5% of APS’ more than 55,000 members in any given year.

The American Chemical Society selected Jayaraman to serve as deputy editor of its new, fully open-access journal ACS Polymer Au (Gold).

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers this summer announced that Jayaraman would receive the 2021 Impact Award, administered by its Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (COMSEF), at the AIChE annual meeting in November.

Jayaraman leads a computational materials research lab as a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science at UD.

She also loves to teach, loves to be in front of a crowd of eager learners and is devoted to sharing science with the broadest possible audience, making quality science communication a priority.

“I’m passionate about science, education and training our next best scientists,” she said. “I also believe that the science we create should be shared. I share that in my classroom and with my research community through our papers. I also strongly support that dissemination with a broader community around the world. This motivated me to take on this new editorial role in the new open-access journal ACS Polymer Au.”

What drives her in all these roles is her love for polymers, substances made up of long chains of uniform molecules. They are everywhere and make amazing building blocks, whether they are produced naturally (silk, hair, DNA for example) or synthetically (plastics, for example).

“They can be in tires, in rocket ships, on a plane and they can be designed to carry a drug into the human body,” she said. “We’re all made of biopolymers, chain molecules that have a unique chemistry programmed in.”

Working at different scales requires the kind of expertise her team has.

“Polymers have non-trivial structures at different scales — Angstrom scale, nanoscale and micron scale,” she said. “To study these materials computationally, one has to select or develop the right model that captures that structure at the scale of interest. One model doesn’t fit all, and that adaptability is something my group works on.”

Her computational expertise pulls many aspects of scientific inquiry together, but she especially cherishes her collaborations with two kinds of researchers, she said — those who synthesize polymers and those who characterize the materials in a wet lab.

One close-to-home example is Jayaraman’s collaboration with UD’s Kristi Kiick, Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. She worked with Kiick to characterize protein-like polymers, predict their stability and thermodynamic behavior in specific conditions and ensure they will behave the way Kiick and her team want them to behave in their biomedical research.

That points the way to new materials and better materials.

Computational skills are essential to advances in research and Jayaraman’s excellence in that work is reflected in the honors received from these three independent scientific societies.

Recognizing Jayaraman’s research accomplishments, APS cited her “insightful development and use of molecular modeling, simulation and theoretical studies of structure and thermodynamics in polymer nanocomposites, conjugated polymer blends, nucleic acids and thermoresponsive peptide-polymer conjugates.”

The Impact Award from AIChE COMSEF recognizes outstanding research in computational molecular science and engineering, including methods and applications.

The editing position with ACS Polymers Au reflects her leadership in polymers research and her communication skill. She and Associate Editor Prof. Harm-Anton Klok of the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH) in Lausanne, Switzerland, just released the first issue of the journal.

“Arthi is the complete package,” said Jan Genzer, S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The North Carolina State University (US), who nominated her for the APS fellowship and was a co-adviser for Jayaraman when she was a doctoral student at N.C. State. “She mentors her students and collaborates with a large group of people. Many of her collaborators are experimentalists and that’s very atypical for people who do simulation and modeling. She is highly sought after by my colleagues who do experiments.”

The daughter of an engineer and an educator, Jayaraman said she loved computer programming when she was growing up in Madras, India, and that lifelong skill along with her interest in chemical sciences has served her well.

“My parents were always supportive and were a driving force for me and my sister, who is an accomplished researcher in biophysics,” Jayaraman said. “I was fortunate to have that push and encouragement from my parents. We came from a lower-middle class family. My parents prioritized our education over luxury and that paid off.”

Jayaraman earned her bachelor of engineering degree in chemical engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science [बिरला इंस्टिट्यूट ऑफ़ टेक्नोलॉजी एंड साइंस] (IN) in Pilani, India, and her doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering at N.C. State. She did postdoctoral research at the The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (US). Before joining UD in 2014, she was an assistant professor and Patten faculty fellow at The University of Colorado-Boulder (US).

Her other awards include the Department of Energy (US) Early Career Research Award and young investigator awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the American Chemical Society (ACS).

See the full article here .

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The University of Delaware (US) is a public land-grant research university located in Newark, Delaware. University of Delaware (US) is the largest university in Delaware. It offers three associate’s programs, 148 bachelor’s programs, 121 master’s programs (with 13 joint degrees), and 55 doctoral programs across its eight colleges. The main campus is in Newark, with satellite campuses in Dover, the Wilmington area, Lewes, and Georgetown. It is considered a large institution with approximately 18,200 undergraduate and 4,200 graduate students. It is a privately governed university which receives public funding for being a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant state-supported research institution.

University of Delaware (US) is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to The National Science Foundation (US), UD spent $186 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 119th in the nation. It is recognized with the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

University of Delaware (US) is one of only four schools in North America with a major in art conservation. In 1923, it was the first American university to offer a study-abroad program.

University of Delaware (US) traces its origins to a “Free School,” founded in New London, Pennsylvania in 1743. The school moved to Newark, Delaware by 1765, becoming the Newark Academy. The academy trustees secured a charter for Newark College in 1833 and the academy became part of the college, which changed its name to Delaware College in 1843. While it is not considered one of the colonial colleges because it was not a chartered institution of higher education during the colonial era, its original class of ten students included George Read, Thomas McKean, and James Smith, all three of whom went on to sign the Declaration of Independence. Read also later signed the United States Constitution.

Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus

On October 23, 2009, the University of Delaware (US) signed an agreement with Chrysler to purchase a shuttered vehicle assembly plant adjacent to the university for $24.25 million as part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. The university has developed the 272-acre (1.10 km2) site into the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. The site is the new home of University of Delaware (US)’s College of Health Sciences, which includes teaching and research laboratories and several public health clinics. The STAR Campus also includes research facilities for University of Delaware (US)’s vehicle-to-grid technology, as well as Delaware Technology Park, SevOne, CareNow, Independent Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the East Coast headquarters of Bloom Energy. In 2020 [needs an update], University of Delaware (US) expects to open the Ammon Pinozzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center, which will become the new home of the UD-led National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals. Also, Chemours recently opened its global research and development facility, known as the Discovery Hub, on the STAR Campus in 2020. The new Newark Regional Transportation Center on the STAR Campus will serve passengers of Amtrak and regional rail.

Academics

The university is organized into nine colleges:

Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Earth, Ocean and Environment
College of Education and Human Development
College of Engineering
College of Health Sciences
Graduate College
Honors College

There are also five schools:

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)
School of Education (part of the College of Education & Human Development)
School of Marine Science and Policy (part of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment)
School of Nursing (part of the College of Health Sciences)
School of Music (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)