American Chemical Society Honors Two UMass Amherst Scientists For Polymer Research

AMHERST, Mass. - UMass Polymer Scientists William MacKnight and Bruce Novak were honored at the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in San Francisco. MacKnight was awarded the ACS award in polymer chemistry and Novak received the society’s Carl Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award.

MacKnight is Distinguished University Professor of Polymer Science and Engineering and was recognized by the ACS for his pioneering research in relating the properties of polymers and polymer blends to their chemical and physical structure.

Novak is associate professor of Polymer Science and Engineering and was selected for his research which was characterized by colleagues as "defining creative science" and "punctuated by creative firsts." Novak’s focus has been on polymerization catalysts and their influence on polymer structure and properties.

"They are both phenomenal scientists," said Richard Farris, head of PS&E at UMass. MacKnight arrived at UMass in 1965 and is a former head of the PS&E program. Novak joined the UMass faculty in 1993.

The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society with a membership of more than 151,000 chemists and chemical engineers. The National Research Council recently ranked the UMass Polymer program among the very best in the nation and also noted that polymer science represents a $20 billion industry in the United States. Synthetic polymers are basic materials such as nylon and polyethylene, and include a wide range of high performance variants used in many industries. The report notes that advances in polymers have stimulated tremendous breakthroughs down-the-line in virtually all mass-produced products.