Polymer scientist named Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow with aim to enhance diversity in academia

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
by Office of Communications

Sixteen scholars from across disciplines, including polymer scientist R. Konane Bay from chemical and biological engineering, have been named Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows at Princeton. They join 12 fellows who were the first cohort selected to the program last year, with the aim of enhancing diversity in the professoriate.

“Our 16 new Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows are an impressive group of early-career scholars, both in terms of their fields of expertise as well as the diversity of backgrounds they bring to Princeton,” said Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni. “They join last year’s 12 inaugural Postdoctoral Research Fellows to pursue research projects under the direction of faculty mentors, and enrich our academic departments and campus in the process. We are looking forward to this coming year with a full cohort of 28 outstanding fellows in the program.”

The program is intended to recognize and support scholars who can contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including groups that have been historically and are presently underrepresented in the academy or in certain disciplines. Fellows will begin their terms between July 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021.

The program is coordinated by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, with support from the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost. The Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity, chaired by the dean of the faculty, reviews the nominations and selects the awardees. The award is renewable for a second year.

The program is co-directed by Princeton faculty Mala Murthy, Rodney Priestley, Stacey Sinclair and Howard Stone.

The Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows contribute to the vibrant intellectual life at Princeton with a wide range of novel ideas, perspectives and experiences,” said Stacey Sinclair, professor of psychology and public affairs. “With this new cohort, the impact of the program will be amplified. It is exciting to provide an institutional home for a diverse group of talented, young intellectuals as they lay the foundations of what will be exceptional academic careers.”

“It is stimulating to discuss research and professional development topics with the first 12 of the presidential postdocs,” said Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and department chair. “Their research topics are fascinating and they bring curiosity to conversations and energy to discussions, which I find refreshing. Every interaction is enjoyable. Adding 16 more colleagues with impressive research accomplishments will enrich our community even more. I look forward to the next steps in this new program Princeton University has enabled to enhance the academy.”

R. Konane Bay will join the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, where she intends to develop a new class of materials within the emerging field of engineered living materials. Bay holds a Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bay received multiple awards for her Ph.D. research, including the ACS Eastman Chemical Student Award in Applied Polymer Science in 2019 and Best Poster Award at the Annual Meeting of the Adhesion Society in 2019. She was an APS Frank J. Padden Jr. Award finalist in 2020. Bay will be advised by Sujit Datta, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering.

The other 2020 Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows are listed in the full story.