Medal honors polymer scientist for illuminating the nature of materials

Written by
Scott Lyon
Sept. 25, 2019

The American Physical Society has awarded Rodney Priestley the John H. Dillon Medal for his achievements in materials science and engineering.

The medal recognizes Priestley's contributions to two broad areas of polymer physics research: a series of breakthrough experiments illuminating the glass transition (a key temperature threshold in polymeric materials), and new techniques for processing polymer thin films and colloids. In addition to his work's importance to the fundamental understanding of materials, it has led to applications in drug delivery, cosmetics and sustainable manufacturing.

Priestley is a professor of chemical and biological engineering and associate director of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. He has published around 100 scholarly articles, edited a book and co-invented four patent-pending technologies. He is engaged in three ongoing research collaborations and is the co-founder of two companies working to translate University intellectual property into technologies or products. He also serves as faculty adviser to the National Society of Black Engineers student chapter. In February, he will become Princeton's vice dean for innovation.

The Dillon Medal goes annually to a young polymer researcher who has completed a Ph.D. no more than 12 years prior to his or her nomination. Past recipients include Priestley's occasional collaborator and colleague in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Theodora D. '78 and William H. Walton III '74 Professor in Engineering. The medal was established in 1983 and first awarded the following year.

Priestley joined the Princeton faculty in 2009 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2008 from Northwestern University.