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Kalow and Olvera de la Cruz Receive Five-Year NSF Award Grant

September 8, 2021

National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $20 million grant to researchers at Northwestern and eight other institutions to explore and optimize the chemical structure and physical properties of individual molecules in a polymer network.

“The long-term potential of this research includes cost- and time-efficient optimization of the polymers used in products like biomedical implants, building materials and even automobile tires,” said principal investigator Stephen Craig, the William T. Miller distinguished professor of chemistry at Duke University. “We hope to discover new ways to make tougher, longer-lived materials with improved end-of-life properties that reduce waste while being perfectly tailored to their intended uses.”

The NSF Center for the Chemistry of Molecularly Optimized Networks (MONET) will bring together experts in polymer chemistry, synthetic methods, photochemistry, multi-scale modeling and bioconjugation. While led by Duke, the center will include researchers from Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, University of California - San Diego, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, and University of Washington.

The senior investigator team includes Northwestern’s Julia Kalow, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, who develops dynamic polymer networks, and Monica Olvera de la Cruz, the Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry, a soft-matter theorist.

“The scientific path being charted by the MONET team will further national priorities in Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence,” said NSF Division Director David Berkowitz.

In addition to its scientific activities, MONET will work to broaden participation and improve student training in the sciences and advance the public appreciation and commercial translation of its findings.

Congratulations Professor Kalow and Professor Olvera de la Cruz!

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