Leading polymer scientist Rodney Priestley named AIChE "eminent" chemical engineer

Written by
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Nov. 14, 2022

Polymer expert Rodney Priestley has been awarded the 2022 Eminent Chemical Engineers Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Minority Affairs Committee.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by this committee. It recognizes chemical engineers from underrepresented minority groups who have made significant contributions to the field. Priestley will receive the award on Nov. 14 during the 2022 AIChE annual meeting in Phoenix. The award consists of a plaque and a $500 cash prize. Besides recognizing professional achievement and technical accomplishments, the award also honors recipients who have served as role models and mentors to underrepresented minorities in engineering.

Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and dean of the Graduate School, studies the complexities of polymers and soft materials. In particular, he focuses on the behavior of nanocomposite materials, thin films and nanoparticles in confined spaces and at small scale.His research has a variety of applications, ranging from low-cost water purification to next-generation membranes for fuel cells or batteries to new methods of delivering pharmaceuticals into the body.

Priestley earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Texas Tech University in 2003 and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2008. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Ecole Superieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris in France before joining the Princeton faculty in 2009. He was named to The Root 100 list of most influential African Americans in 2014 and won the American Physical Society Dillon Medal in 2018, which recognizes early-career polymer scientists. Most recently, Priestley was recognized by the American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry with its 2023 Carl S. Marvel Award for Creative Polymer Chemistry, given to young scientists who have made innovations in basic or applied polymer science.