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Professor Rich Spontak is a 2023-24 Jefferson Science Fellow

Professor Richard Spontak
Professor Rich Spontak

Professor Rich Spontak has been selected as a member of the 2023-24 class of Jefferson Science Fellows. Nine Fellows were named to the 2023-24 class.

Established in 2003, the Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) program “is a model for engaging the American academic science, technology, engineering, and medical communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy.” The program is overseen by the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State, with the administrative support of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Jefferson Science Fellows serve for one year at the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as science and technology advisors on foreign policy issues. Fellows may also be involved in extended stays at U.S. foreign embassies and/or missions.

“The role of the Jefferson Science Fellows is both to advise and educate. They use their professional experience to increase the understanding among policy officials of complex, cutting edge scientific issues and their possible impacts on U.S. foreign policy and international relations.”

Prof. Spontak is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, as well as Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate and Graduate Professor. He received his B.S. degree (with honors) from The Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, both in chemical Engineering.

Following post-doctoral appointments at Cambridge University (UK) and the Institute for Energy Technology (Norway), he first joined the Corporate Research Division of The Procter & Gamble Company in 1990 and then started his academic career in 1992. Having published over 300 peer-reviewed journal publications and delivered over 370 invited presentations worldwide, Spontak supervises the Macromolecular Materials & Morphology Group at NC State and has held visiting professorships, including the Lars Onsager Professorship at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology, and fellowships throughout Europe and Asia.

Spontak’s work focuses on the design and development of functional soft materials for use in a wide range of contemporary technologies. His recent water-activated materials, for instance, provide rapid, broad-spectrum, continuously-disinfecting antimicrobial surfaces to combat the spread of transmissible infection and antimicrobial resistance, and his ultrapermeable and ultraselective carbon-capture membranes can help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and mitigate global climate change.

In recognition of his research, Spontak received the 2022 Holladay Medal for Excellence, the most prestigious faculty award at NC State, as well as several (inter)national awards including the 2022 American Chemical Society (PMSE Division) Tess Award in Coatings, the 2022 Society of Polymer Science, Japan, International Award, and the 2023 Institution of Chemical Engineers Underwood Medal. An elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Chemical Society PMSE Division, he is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award (Turkey), an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship (Germany), and a Tewkesbury Fellowship (Australia).

Congratulations to Professor Spontak for this singular honor!