Chemical Engineer at UMass Amherst Receives Young Faculty Award From NSF

AMHERST, Mass. - James J. Watkins, assistant professor in the University of Massachusetts chemical engineering department, has received a highly competitive CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The four-year, $300,000 award is intended to support the research and educational activities of young faculty members.

Watkins will use the grant to develop his research in the applications of supercritical fluids (SCFs), such as carbon dioxide, in materials processing. According to Watkins, SCFs are highly compressed gases that are used as alternative solvents in the synthesis and processing of materials. His research, which focuses on the deposition of thin metal films, has applications in the microelectronics industry. The unique characteristics of SCFs are used to create new materials and processes that overcome limitations of existing methods, he said.

Watkins will also receive the 1998 Unilever Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Science and Engineering from the American Chemical Society, divisions of polymer chemistry and polymeric materials science and engineering. The Unilever Award recognizes a recent Ph.D. graduate who has completed the most outstanding thesis in the design, synthesis, and physical chemistry of polymers. Watkins received his Ph.D. from the polymer science and engineering department at UMass in 1997.