Molecular modeling expert Michael Webb has received a junior faculty award for excellence in research and teaching

Written by
Office of Engineering Communications
May 12, 2022

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has honored molecular modeling expert Michael Webb for early-career excellence in research and teaching. He is one of two recipients of the Howard B. Wentz, Jr. Junior Faculty Award and one of six assistant professors to receive a junior faculty award this year. Each recipient will receive $50,000 to support their research.

An assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, Webb utilizes theory and simulation to characterize, understand and guide the design of novel soft materials for health and sustainability applications. Some of his group’s current interests are motivated by the use of both natural and synthetic polymers in technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, water treatment, tissue engineering and drug delivery. They aim to use predictive modeling frameworks to study aspects of charge-transport phenomena in polymeric media, stimuli-responsive behavior of biopolymer-based solutions and gels, and the interfacial physics and properties of polymer-composite materials.

Webb is an associated faculty member of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering and the Princeton Institute of Materials. This year, he received a grant from the engineering school’s Project X innovation fund for the project “Molecularly informed investigation of contact charging between insulating polymer surfaces.”

In nominating Webb, department chair Athanassios Panagiotopoulos said that Webb “has a unique ability to identify important problems and apply tools from sophisticated statistical mechanics and machine learning to provide solutions” and “has made a strong start in generating truly novel, creative ideas and in building cross-disciplinary interactions.”