Lauren Zarzar, assistant professor of chemistry, has been selected as a recipient of the Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The Mason Award commemorates the late chemist and AAAS member Marion Tuttle Milligan Mason, who wanted to support the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. Milligan also wanted to honor her family's commitment to higher education for women, as demonstrated by her parents and grandfather, who encouraged and sent several daughters to college. The Mason Award is a highly competitive award that attracts applications from the very best early career female chemists across the country.
First awarded in 2015, the Mason Award has funded the research of 14 scientists who represent a diverse range of specialties within the chemical sciences.
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 complex fluids and emulsions to harness liquids as materials in new ways. Zarzar’s research funded by the Mason Award will encompass the study of dynamic phase separation behavior within oil-in-water emulsion droplets.
Zarzar received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in chemistry and a Young Investigator Research Program grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research 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.
Zarzar and the other awardees will take part in a virtual ceremony on December 2 and 3 to mark this accomplishment.