News Release

National Academy of Engineering names University of Pittsburgh’s Anna C. Balazs as new member

Balazs is first Swanson School faculty elected to both National Academies of Engineering and Science

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Pittsburgh

Distinguished Professor Anna Balazs

image: Dr. Balazs was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. view more 

Credit: Anna Balazs

Less than a year after being elected to the National Academy of Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor Anna Balazs was named as one of the newest members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The Academy accepted Balazs’ membership “in recognition of distinguished contributions to engineering and for creative and imaginative work in predicting the behavior of soft materials that are composed of multiple cooperatively - interacting components.”

She is the first faculty member in the Swanson School of Engineering to hold membership in both the Engineering and Science academies. Balazs and the 111 new members and 22 international members announced by NAE President John L. Anderson will be inducted at the NAE Annual Meeting this fall, October 2-3 in Washington, DC.

Balazs’ research focuses on “biomimicry” and the theoretical and computational modeling of polymers. An internationally-acclaimed expert in the field, her many accolades also include the first woman to receive the prestigious Polymer Physics Prize from the American Physical Society in 2016. She is also the John A. Swanson Chair of Engineering in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering,

“This has been a tremendous year for Anna and long-due recognition of her outstanding career in engineering and chemistry,” noted Steven R. Little, Department Chair and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. “Her continued impact in this singular field represents the foundation for soft robotics, advanced materials, and a new interpretation of polymer chemistry. Most importantly, Anna is also a remarkable teacher, mentor, and colleague, especially to our young faculty. All of us share in her excitement today and share a sense of pride in her lifetime accomplishments.”

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Balazs is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society, and received some of the leading awards in her field, including the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys - A Rahman Award (2015), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014), and the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (2013).

“Anna is truly an exceptional engineer whose passion for polymer chemistry excites and inspires,” said James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “With her election to two of our country’s most prestigious national academies, Anna has firmly established herself as an exemplar of innovation and a role model to so many in our Swanson School community. I look forward to soon celebrating her success.”


More About Anna's Research

Designing Active Materials for Self-regulating Soft Robots

Shifting Gears Toward Chemical Machines

Let’s Do the Twist

Shining a New Light on Biomimetic Materials

Biomimicry of Basic Instinct

New method uses ultraviolet light to control fluid flow and organize particles

Building a Pump without Parts

About Dr. Balazs

Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, Anna C. Balazs held a postdoctoral position in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Balazs' research involves theoretical and computational modeling of the thermodynamic and kinetic behavior of polymer blends and composites. She is also investigating the properties of polymers at surfaces and interfaces.

Her other awards and recognitions include the Polymer Physics Prize (2016); S. F. Boys-A. Rahman Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) Faraday Division (2015); ACS Langmuir Lecture Award (2014); Greater Pittsburgh Women Chemists Committee Award for Excellence in the Chemical Sciences (2014); Fellow, Materials Research Society (2014); South Dakota School of Mines’ Mines Medal (2013); Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2010); Donaldson Lecturer, University of Minnesota (2007); Honoree, “Women in the Material World,” Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania (2006); Maurice Huggins Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science (2003); Visiting Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University (2000 – 2001; 2007- 2008); Special Creativity Award, National Science Foundation, (1999-2001); Fellow, American Physical Society (1993); and Invited Participant, National Academy of Sciences' 6th Annual Frontiers of Science Symposium (November 3-5, 1994).

About the National Academies

Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation by providing independent advice on matters involving engineering and technology, and by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and public appreciation of engineering.

The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and international members, senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers. They provide the leadership and expertise for numerous projects focused on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life.

The NAE is part of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The NAE operates under the same congressional act of incorporation that established the National Academy of Sciences, signed in 1863 by President Lincoln. Under this charter the NAE is directed “whenever called upon by any department or agency of the government, to investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.”

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