Lauren Zarzar, assistant professor of chemistry, has been honored with the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award from the Penn State Materials Research Institute in recognition of her work with dynamic materials and accomplishments in research in materials chemistry, particularly for the development of approaches to create structural color from interference in microscale geometries. The award is designed to honor interdisciplinary materials research at Penn State which yields innovative and unexpected results. The award was presented to Zarzar at Materials Day 2019, held October 29 and 30 on the Penn State University Park campus.
Zarzar’s research focuses on developing dynamic materials that sense and adapt to their surroundings. Her most 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 in this area is supported by the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office, and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers.
Zarzar was honored with a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and 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), the Army Research Office Young Investigator Program Award (ARO-YIP), the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator (ACS-PRF), the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, and the Gladys Snyder Award from Penn State in 2018; and the Virginia S. and Philip L. Walker Jr. Faculty Fellowship from Penn State in 2016.
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 and a researcher in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Tokyo in 2013. 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.