Langmuir and the ACS Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry are pleased to announce Professors Deborah E. Leckband (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Ivan I. Smalyukh (University of Colorado – Boulder) as 2021 winners Langmuir Lecturer price. The award honors personalities who are active in the interdisciplinary field of colloid and surface chemistry.

Get to know the winners

Deborah Lickband

Professor Leckband is Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Reid T. Milner Professor in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Illinois. She holds professorship positions at the Beckman Institute, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab, and the Bioengineering Department. She is also the leader of The Biological Interfaces Group, whose research determines how the physicochemical properties of surfaces affect basic biological functions and device / material performance in biological environments.

What does it mean for you to win this year’s award?

To be selected as 2021 Langmuir Lecturer is a great honor. Since my postdoctoral years with Jacob Israelachvili, I’ve been fascinated by the way surface science affects biology, from basic processes like cell adhesion to preventing marine pollution on ships. I have a lot of great colleagues in this area. Your recognition of my contributions in this way is both humbling and an honor.

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

Our most exciting recent work began with a recent collaboration with Martin Gruebele, who invented a method to measure protein folding stability in nanoliter volumes in cells. I realized that this approach could also provide exciting new insights into how materials affect protein stability in situ. We examine proteins on surfaces, in solution and in 3D materials with a resolution in the submicrometer range. In just a few years we have already discovered some surprising ways in which polymers can maintain or switch off protein function. This new knowledge will be used to guide the design of new biomaterials with improved biological activity and stability.

Ivan I. Smalyukh

Ivan Smalyukh is Professor of Physics and Materials Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a founding member of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NREL, and founder of the start-up company iFeather Technologies, Inc. He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder as an Assistant Professor in 2007, since 2014 associate professor and full professor in 2017. His current research focuses on different types of soft matter systems including colloids, liquid crystals, biomaterials and their applications in photonics and renewable energy technologies.

What does it mean for you to win this year’s award?

This is very exciting news. I feel honored and grateful. The award will motivate me and my research team to pursue many new ambitious research projects in the field of colloid and surface science

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

On the fundamental side of our research portfolio, we are developing new condensed matter phases that combine fluidity with the orientational order of low symmetry, such as the triclinic nematic colloidal liquids. On the application side, we develop highly transparent, thermally super-insulating mesoporous materials for applications in energy-efficient windows.


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