Engineering News

Mitchell Wang Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

The award recognizes outstanding research and education from junior faculty

Northwestern Engineering’s Muzhou (Mitchell) Wang received the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the foundation’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

The CAREER Award is designed to support promising young faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through the combination of outstanding research and education.

Mitchell WangWang is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. His project “Visualizing single-chain conformation and dynamics of bottlebrush polymers in the bulk state” will receive $600,000 over five years from NSF’s Division of Materials Research and will focus on using next-generation optical techniques, including super-resolution microscopy, to directly image how single polymers behave in the solid state.

Specifically, Wang’s work will focus on the class of polymers called bottlebrushes, which have attracted interest for photonic materials and drug delivery, and the project will address the question of how the structure and behavior of single polymers connect to the properties of materials at everyday length scales.

This project will also support new curriculum development for Junior Science Club, an afterschool activity for underrepresented youth in third through fifth grades. Graduate students and volunteers will mentor students during six- to eight-week modules.

Wang’s research group studies the processes and mechanisms that govern the assembly and dynamics of nanostructured polymers and other soft materials. They develop and adapt techniques for controlling and characterizing these processes, and the group explores various bottlenecks in the understanding of polymer physics, opening avenues for developing new polymeric materials with excellent nanoscale control and superior performance.