Lauren Zarzar, assistant professor of chemistry, has been awarded a Young Investigator Program research grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The grant recognizes and funds Zarzar’s research in the area of remote sensing through multi-path optical interference of reflected light.
The Young Investigator Program aims to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering. Zarzar’s grant is one out of only thirty-six awarded this year.
Zarzar’s research focuses on developing dynamic materials that sense and adapt to their surroundings. A recent discovery—a previously unrecognized mechanism for generating structural iridescent color—was featured on the cover of the journal Nature. Her research group has found ways to control optical interference in microscale materials that will be investigated for use in remote sensing applications.
Zarzar received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in chemistry in 2020. She was honored with the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award from the Penn State Materials Research Institute, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and was recognized as one of the Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12 in 2019. Her previous awards and honors include the Unilever Award from the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2019; the Army Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (Army-ECASE), and the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Zarzar was a postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2013 to 2016. She earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at Harvard University in 2013 and bachelor's degrees in chemistry and in economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.