Skip to main content

Spontak Receives 2022 RJ Reynolds Award

Richard J. Spontak, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) at North Carolina State University, received the 2022 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension. At an award ceremony held in the Talley Student Center on NC State’s campus, he delivered a lecture titled “Water-Activated Materials to Mitigate Growing Global Challenges.”

“This is a $25,000 award, and it is given in increments of $5,000 over a five-year period, but more importantly it is the most prestigious award that the College of Engineering presents to an individual faculty member,” said Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College, at the ceremony.

Since its inception in 1981, 38 faculty members have the award, which is supported by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company through the NC State Engineering Foundation.

Spontak joined the NC State University faculty in 1992. He is also a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Spontak is known for his vast contributions to his discipline, as well as for his dedicated student mentorship.

In physics, Spontak is widely recognized as a global leader in nanostructured polymer systems. One of his pinnacle achievements lies in the application of electron tomography to study the 3D characteristics of nanostructured polymers at nanoscale resolution. Spontak’s research has yielded over 300 peer-reviewed publications, six patents, over 350 invited talks, 21 international journal covers and one book cover. His impact is quantified by over 14,000 citations and an h-index of 61, with 11 papers cited over 200 times.

Spontak’s transformative discoveries and identification of solutions to contemporary problems have been recognized through multiple honors and awards. Most recently, he received the 2022 NC State University Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal; the 2022 International Award from the Society of Polymer Science, Japan; and the 2022 American Chemical Society (PMSE Division) Roy W. Tess Award for Coatings.

Spontak is a member of nine different professional societies, including the American Chemical Society; the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In addition to his research productivity, Spontak is considered by many engineering students and faculty members to be an outstanding teacher and mentor. He creates a welcoming environment for students and enhances their learning through introductions to other world-class faculty members and exposure to interdisciplinary research. His honors include NC State’s Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2021 Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Recent recipients of the award include Michael Dickey, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Professor in CBE; Jacob Jones, Distinguished Professor in MSE; Jan Genzer, S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor in CBE; and Youngsoo “Richard” Kim, Jimmy D. Clark Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering.

Written by Brent Lancaster.