The editors of the Journal of Polymer Science and the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division of the ACS are delighted to announce that the JPS Innovation Award winner for 2014 is Brent Sumerlin. The award recognizes Brent for his trailblazing work with functional, “smart” polymers and their integration with biological systems.
The Innovation Award was established in 2012 to celebrate significant research innovation and achievement in a polymer scientist under the age of 40. The recipient is recognized with a symposium in association with PMSE at the ACS Fall meeting.
Brent is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Florida (UF). He received his Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Southern Mississippi with Professor Charles L. McCormick, and followed up those studies with a Visiting Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, advised by Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski. After this, he began his independent career in the Department of Chemistry at Southern Methodist University before moving to UF.
Brent’s research is primarily focused on three main areas, combining both fundamental and applied science toward the treatment of disease. First, he takes advantage of “click-chemistry” techniques to synthesize and functionalize complex polymers. The second area explores the self-assembly of stimuli-responsive block copolymers. Rather than focusing on the more commonly studied pH, light, and temperature stimuli, Brent investigates the effect of small molecules on polymer responses. The ability to detect changes in the concentration of sugars gives his block copolymer micelles a clear advantage in the delivery of insulin during diabetes treatment. Finally, his innovative work on “smart” polymer-protein conjugates under conditions that prevent denaturation allow for new applications in controlled drug delivery and enzyme catalysis. The modification of biomacromolecules with synthetic polymers increases efficacy for many in vitro and in vivo applications.
At the interface of bio-, organic-, and polymer chemistry, Brent’s pioneering work during his career has resulted in 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals and 7 patents. He has been recognized with several awards, including the NSF CAREER and Alfred P. Sloan Awards, and serves on the editorial boards of 14 journals, including the Journal of Polymer Science: Polymer Chemistry. Recognizing his “smart” polymer research and creativity in aspects of his career, we are thrilled to award Brent the 2014 Journal of Polymer Science Innovation Award.