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Harry Allcock Receives Polymer Education Award

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Harry Allcock Receives Polymer Education Award

Harry Allcock

28 January 2010

Harry Allcock, Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, is the recipient of the 2010 Paul J. Flory Polymer Education Award from the American Chemical Society.  The Flory award — which commemorates the achievements of the late Paul Flory, a Nobel Prize recipient who was a chemist at Stanford University — was created to recognize, encourage, and stimulate outstanding achievements by an individual in promoting undergraduate or graduate polymer education.

"There is a crucial need to acquaint students in the chemistry-related disciplines with the ways in which long-range academic research can lead to useful developments," said Allcock. "Fewer than a quarter of the students in chemistry will find careers in teaching, whereas the majority will be employed in industry or government laboratories.  Thus, as faculty, we have a responsibility to broaden students' interests beyond the highly focused academic topics of their thesis research.  This is what I try to do in my classroom teaching, in the research laboratory, and in my books."

For several years, Allcock has taught a course in materials chemistry, which is taken by many students in the first year of their graduate program in chemistry and by undergraduates in chemistry and related fields.  He also conducts research at the interface between inorganic and organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and materials science.  In particular, his research involves the design and synthesis of new polymers that contain organic components, together with heteroelements such as phosphorus, silicon, boron, or transition metals.  He was the discoverer of a major class of polymers known as polyphosphazenes, which are being developed both at Penn State and in other laboratories for uses in fuel cells, lithium batteries, and biomedical tissue-regeneration scaffolds.  He also discovered a new class of molecular-inclusion compounds known as clathrates, which have been used to separate a wide variety of small organic molecules and high polymers, and which also serve as nanoscale templates for addition polymerizations.

Allcock has received numerous awards for his research, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Award in Polymer Chemistry, the ACS National Award in Materials Chemistry, the ACS Herman Mark Award in Polymer Chemistry, and, in 2007, the ACS National Award in Applied Polymer Science.  He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1986 and 1987, and he received the American Institute of Chemists Chemical Pioneer Award in 1989.

Allcock has authored or coauthored more than 530 peer-reviewed papers, and he is the author of three research monographs on inorganic-organic rings and polymers, including the 725-page "Chemistry and Applications of Polyphosphazenes" published in 2003. He is also the author of a 2008 textbook, titled "Introduction to Materials Chemistry."

Allcock received his bachelor's and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of London in the United Kingdom.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at Purdue University and at the National Research Council of Canada, and was a research chemist at the American Cyanamid Laboratories in Stamford, Connecticut from 1961 to 1966.  In 1966, he joined the faculty at Penn State as associate professor.  He was promoted to professor in 1970 and was named Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry in 1985.  As a professor at Penn State, he has directed the training of more than 130 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists, as well as numerous undergraduates.  He also has been a visiting scientist at Stanford University, the Imperial College of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom, and IBM Almaden Laboratories in California.

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