MacKnight chosen for American Chemical Society prize

William J. MacKnight, Wilmer D. Barrett Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Polymer Science and Engineering, has been chosen to receive the American Chemical Society’s Paul J. Flory Education Award for 2006.

The prize, which is by given by the ACS Polymer Chemistry Division, recognizes outstanding achievements by an individual or team in promoting polymer education at the collegiate level. The award is sponsored by the Rohm and Haas Company.

Established in 1981, the award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $2,000. MacKnight will be presented the award at the spring meeting of the ACS, which will hold a special symposium in his honor.

MacKnight is an expert in the characteristics of polymers and polymer blends. He studies how the material properties of polymers - strength and stiffness, for instance - relate to their basic underlying molecular structure. He specializes in blending polymers to produce new materials with unique properties, a procedure he compares with combining metals to create a metal alloy.

He joined the faculty in 1965 as a member of the Chemistry Department and became part of a small group of faculty responsible for creating the Polymer Science and Engineering Program in 1966. The program received department status in 1974. He served two separate terms for a total of 16 years as head of Polymer Science and Engineering, returning to the faculty in 1995. He was instrumental in securing funding for the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research.

MacKnight has received a slate of prestigious awards, including membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also received the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry, and the Ford Prize in High Polymer Physics, which he was awarded jointly with faculty colleague Frank Karasz. He was named a Distinguished University Professor and was awarded the Wilmer D. Barrett Chair in Polymer Science and Engineering. He retired in 1999.