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Professor Jiang Ping Gong

DSM Materials Sciences Award (2014)

Professor, Faculty of Advanced Life Science, Hokkaido University, Japan
Prof Jiang Ging Pong & Marcel Wubbolts

Prof. Gong obtained her Bachelor's degree in Physics from Zhejiang University, China, and her Master's degree in Polymer Science from Ibaraki University, Japan. Her Doctor of Engineering degree was acquired studying high-Tc superconducting materials at Tokyo Institute of Technology. In 1993, Prof. Gong became a faculty member at Hokkaido University, where she also received her Doctor of Science degree for studying polyelectrolyte hydrogels. She was appointed full professor at the university in 2003.

I was awarded the DSM Materials Sciences Award 2014 for my contribution to the study of double-network hydrogels and materials sciences. In particular, my work focused on the mechanical properties of extremely tough double-network gels, an area that has generated significant interest and recognition in the international scientific community. Indeed, my innovative work on the friction of hydrogels, which was driven by artificial cartilage applications, has been widely applauded.

I think very highly of this award.  It is good to see that companies like DSM are continuing to invest in science, and that they recognize the importance of pioneering research in materials science that leads to sustainable products or applications that enhance people's quality of life.

Although I was familiar with DSM through international conferences, I didn’t know that I was in the running for this award until I received an email notifying me of my success in March. It was a big surprise for me – I couldn’t believe it at first!  I sincerely thank my collaborators and students for the contribution to the work awarded. I also sincerely thank Prof. Hugh Brown, who nominated me for the award without telling me in advance. Without them, it would not have been possible for me to receive such a prestigious award.

I highly enjoyed the awards ceremony, which was held at the IUPAC World Polymer Congress 2014 (Macro 2014) in Chiang Mai, Thailand on July 8.  The event took place in a large and elegantly decorated convention hall with an audience of several hundred people.

I gave a lecture entitled “Build Sacrificial Bonds to Toughen Soft Materials”, and thankfully the audience was very receptive. I received several invitations to lecture at different universities and companies, and offers to establish professional collaboration, as well as inquiries about visiting my lab. 

The events afterwards – the award symposium, the award reception, and the dinner with the symposium speakers, the IUPAC chair and the scientists and CTO from DSM – were also memorable.

Together with my colleagues and students, I will continue to develop innovative soft materials by applying the sacrificial bonds concept that was established through the study of double-network hydrogels. Twenty years ago, I switched from hard ceramic materials to soft hydrogel materials, as the research in the field of hydrogels is less equipment-dependent.  I feel more freedom, and gels stimulate my imagination more than hard ceramic materials.  In the future, I hope to combine both fields of research, developing a new type of soft ceramic material.

I will also devote myself to developing the practical applications for these materials in various other areas, such as in health care and biomedical fields.

Commenting on this year’s award recipient in the context of DSM’s wider ambitions, Chief Technology Officer of DSM Dr. Wubbolts said: “It is the work of innovative scientists like Jian Ping Gong that enables trailblazing advances in science. Professor Gong’s work is key in addressing global health and wellness challenges in a world with an aging population and rising global healthcare costs. Her research also provides tools and inspiration to others in materials sciences for generating new possibilities for even wider applications. It is these kind of scientific advances that help make it possible for DSM to sustainably fulfill its mission of creating brighter lives for people today and generations to come.”