PhD Graduate Awards

DSM Science & Technology Awards

Recognizing, rewarding and nurturing talent

For the DSM Science and Technology Award program we team up with leading scientific associations in their respective fields:

  • the American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry (ACS Poly) in the case of our materials awards, and
  • the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) and America Society of Animal Science (ASAS) in respect of our human nutrition and animal nutrition science awards respectively.

A Science and Technology Award not only gives PhD graduates a financial reward for their achievements, but also a platform to make a name for themselves in their chosen field. They also help participants make the all-important connection between scientific achievement and commercial and industrial success. It’s a key consideration as research and development increasingly needs to show its value.

The Awards

Innovative PhD research in polymer technology

Awarded annually and open to current PhD students and those who have recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas, this award is about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in polymer technology.

The award will be presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting, from 25-28 August 2019, in San Diego (CA), US.

2019 theme: Polymers for a sustainable future

The theme for the 2019 award will be Polymers for a Sustainable Future. The theme spans Nutrition and Health, Climate and Energy, and Resources and Circularity.

Submissions may include, and preferably connect synthesis, characterization, engineering, material property assessment and application.

Nominees will be judged based on both the connection to the theme and their quality of the scientific research.

The prize

The award carries a cash prize of $5,000. The three runners-up will each receive $1,000. On top of their prize, all the four finalists will receive an additional $1,000 to cover associated travel and conference registration costs.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nominations are open to current PhD students and those who have recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas.
  • Candidates must not have defended their PhD thesis before 1 January 2018.
  • The nominated work must involve innovative research (fundamental or applied) in the area of Polymers for a Sustainable Future.

Selection & judging

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates will be selected for the final judging round that will take place during the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting, from 25-28 August 2019, in San Diego (CA), US. These four candidates will be invited to present their research results in a short lecture during a special DSM - ACS POLY Symposium. A judging committee comprising members from DSM and ACS POLY will select and announce the winner at a special award ceremony during the ACS national meeting.

Nomination

  • Candidates must be nominated by their PhD supervisors (one nominee per supervisor).
  • Nominations need to be accompanied by the following documents, combined into a single PDF submission:
    • A graphical abstract of the candidate’s lecture topic.
    • A list of all accepted publications, including DOI.
    • Copies of key publications (max. three) in full length (not including supplementary files).
    • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including (expected) date of PhD defense.
    • A personal letter of recommendation prepared by the PhD supervisor.

Nomination packages must be compiled into a single PDF document and submitted by e-mail to Kathy Mitchem, who can also be contacted for more information regarding the award.

Previous winner

In 2018 we granted the award to Yoonseob Kim, from the University of Michigan (MI), US. Yoonseob was recognized for his research on stretchable electronic and photonic nanocomposites from self-organized nanoparticles.

Nominations are now closed.

Innovative PhD research in animal nutrition contributing to sustainable animal farming

Granted annually and open to PhD students, this award is about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in the field of animal sciences.

The 2019 award was presented at the annual meeting of the ASAS Midwest Section, in Omaha on 13 March.

2019 winner

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates were selected by an independent jury for the final judging round and were invited to present their research results in a short lecture during a special DSM - ASAS Symposium. A judging committee comprising members from the DSM and ASAS community selected the winner, Chan Sol Park, at the commencement of the symposium.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nominations were open to current PhD students or those who had recently obtained their PhD at a university in the Americas.
  • Candidates could not have defended their PhD dissertation before 1 January 2018.
  • The nominated work had to focus on innovative research - fundamental or applied - in the general area of Animal Nutrition contributing to Sustainable Animal Farming.

The prize

The award carried a cash prize of $5,000. The three runners-up each received $1,000. On top of their prize, all the four finalists received an additional $1,000 to cover associated travel and conference registration costs.

Nomination

  • Candidates were nominated by their PhD supervisors (one nominee per supervisor). Nominations were accompanied by the following supporting documents:
  • An abstract (according to ASAS guidelines) of the candidate’s lecture topic.
  • Copies of key publications (maximum 3) in full length (not including supplementary files).
  • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including GPA, publications and (expected) date of PhD defense (if not defended already).
  • An application letter where the candidate described his or her accomplishments and future goals.
  • Two letters of recommendations – one prepared by the PhD supervisor.

Innovative PhD research in polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) nutrition and related topics

Granted bi-annually and open to PhD students, this award is about recognizing and rewarding excellence in innovative PhD research in Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) nutrition and related topics.

The 2018 award was presented during the plenary session of the ISSFAL 2018 congress in Las Vegas on 31 May.

2018 winner

From the total number of nominations received, four candidates were selected by an independent jury for the final judging round. These four candidates presented their research during a special DSM/ISSFAL Symposium at the 13th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids. A committee of leading scientists selected the winner, Dr. Kathryn Hopperton from the University of Toronto. 

Nominations were open to current PhD students and those who had recently obtained their PhD. Nominees and runners-up for the 2018 award were:

  • Dr. Kathryn Hopperton, from the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Mandana Pahlavani, from Texas Tech University
  • Dr. Ross E Pennington, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Lin Lin, from the University of Toronto

Eligibility criteria

  • The award is international and was open to current PhD students and those who have recently obtained their PhD.
  • Candidates could not have defended their PhD thesis before 1 January 2016.
  • The nominated work had to be focused on innovative research - fundamental or applied - in the general area of Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) nutrition and related topics.

The prize

The winner received a cash prize of €5,000 and each of the three runners-up received a cash prize of €1,000. In addition, each of the four finalists received €1,500 to compensate for travel, hotel accommodation and conference registration.

Nomination

Candidates had to be nominated by their PhD supervisors (as a rule: one nomination per supervisor). Nominations had to be accompanied by the following supporting documents:

  • A summary of the candidate’s work (max. 3 pages).
  • A list of all accepted PhD related publications, including DOI.
  • Copies of the key publications (max. 3) in full length.
  • The candidate’s complete curriculum vitae, including (expected) date of PhD defense.
  • A personal letter of recommendation from the PhD supervisor.

Past winners span a huge range of topics and nationalities. Since winning, their careers have moved in equally diverse directions - from the heights of academia to major commercial success. Here's a selection of interviews with just a few of our past winners and their hopes, dreams…and a little advice along the way.

Chan Sol Park

On 13 March 2019, Chan Sol Park, from Purdue University, received the DSM Science & Technology Award Animal Nutrition (Americas) 2019 during the annual meeting of the ASAS Midwest Section in Omaha. Chan was recognised for his thesis on protein quality in experimental diets and amino acid digestibility in feed ingredients for pigs.

When and how did your interest in science start?

“When I was young, I was always interested in animals. However, since I lived in the city, I did not have many chances to see and spend time with them, so I watched a lot of documentaries on Discovery Channel and National Geographic. My interest in science started around that time.

"Watching these documentaries allowed me to learn many interesting facts about animals and stimulated my curiosity. When I realized that there are still a lot of unsolved questions in nature, I decided to become a person who finds the answers.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the scientific world?

There are two people who always inspire me to step forward: Dr. Beob Gyun Kim and Dr. Layi Adeola. Dr. Kim, who was my supervisor during my Master’s degree, taught me the basics and introduced me to the broad spectrum of research in animal nutrition. Dr. Adeola is currently supervising my PhD program and supporting me in improving and expanding my ideas. They always give me the best advice on how to think further, and their endless passion for research strongly motivates me to work harder.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the field of monogastric animal nutrition?

During my Master’s program, I realized that continuous research is necessary to deal with current issues and to improve the livestock industry. In addition, I was fascinated by designing and conducting research for animal nutrition, so I decided to continue my research through a PhD program to further study monogastric animal nutrition which can contribute to the livestock industry.

Which societal challenges can we solve with your research?

The livestock industry is currently facing many issues, including regulation of the use of antibiotics, environmental pollution caused by livestock manure, and the fluctuating price of feed ingredients. Therefore, precision nutrition is necessary to cope with current issues and achieve sustainable animal farming. My research mainly focuses on improvement of nutritional supply to monogastric animals and accurate evaluation of nutritional quality in feed ingredients, all of which can contribute to maximizing the livestock production, as well as minimizing the detrimental effects on the environment and product consumers.

What does it mean for you to win this award?

It means a lot to me. I am very grateful for this award, and it will encourage me to move forward in my research. It will also always remind me of my colleagues – who give me selfless support. I could not have achieved this without their help.

What will be the next steps in your career?

My future goal is to be part of the faculty at a major research university and continue to conduct research in animal nutrition. I have studied animal nutrition under the supervision of great professors, who have helped me to develop creative and critical research competency. I would like to follow their career paths and contribute to the industry as well as education and science.

Dr. Yoonseob Kim

On 21 August 2018, Yoonseob Kim, from the University of Michigan, received the DSM Science & Technology Award Materials (Americas) 2018 during the ACS Poly Conference in Boston. Yoonseob was recognized for the exceptional contribution of his PhD research in the field of polymer technology.

When and how did your interest in science start?

"In 2000, during my second year in high school, I was inspired by Dr. Richard Feynman’s 1959 lecture 'There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom'.

"Dr. Feynman envisioned a future where nanoscale machines preferentially arrange single atoms. Since then, nanotechnology and nanoscience have fascinated me. Later on, I was fortunate enough to spend a year of my undergraduate studies as a visiting scholar to the lab of Prof. Adam Matzger at the University of Michigan, Department of Chemistry. This amazing time re-confirmed my interest in this area of science, and sparked my curiosity into how synthetic chemical knowledge can help solve real-world problems.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the scientific world?

"Without any doubt, Dr. Richard Feynman is definitely my scientific hero. Beyond him, many great individuals, including my mentors and dissertation committee members, have inspired me. Ultimately, however, my PhD advisor Prof. Nicholas Kotov had the most notable impact on me. He has always tried to question how scientific knowledge can be uniquely applied to make a real-world impact. His creativity and passion for research inspired me to pursue cutting-edge projects. These projects paid off through impactful publications and one patent. The encouragement, generosity, creativity, criticism, and support I received from him have made all of my hard work into a truly enjoyable experience.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the field of nanocomposites for emerging applications?

"Since reading Dr. Feynman’s lecture, I have always been fascinated by the question of how we can align or assemble nanoscale building blocks to achieve unique properties. By searching through different literatures, I have learned that quite a bit of progress has been made by both top-down and bottom-up approaches. I was more drawn by bottom-up approaches because they are scalable, economical, fast, and environmentally benign. Among many bottom-up approaches, the layer-by-layer (LBL) assembly was the most versatile tool. Because of this, I joined Prof. Nicholas Kotov’s lab at the University of Michigan, Department of Chemical Engineering, to make LBL-assembled materials with fascinating goals in mind, including stretchable conductors and photonic meta-materials.

Which societal challenges can we solve with your research?

"Next-generation electronic devices are expected to be both resistant to external mechanical deformation and smaller but expandable. These functionalities are essential to make electronic materials and devices that are implantable into a human body, for example. What’s more, stealth aircraft and enantiospecific biomolecule sensing are dependent on the study of light–matter interactions. The fundamental knowledge obtained during my PhD study can be applied to realize those goals.

What does it mean for you to win this award?

"The DSM award encourages me to continue my academic journey. It motivates me to carry on developing great science and strengthens my belief that only through science-driven technology can we create brighter living.

What will be the next steps in your career?

"I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, in the Department of Chemistry, with Prof. Timothy Swager. Here, I utilize fundamental synthetic chemical knowledge for clean energy generation and water purification applications. The next step in my career is to become an independent researcher leading a group of scientists in their creative and science-driven research, in order to deliver, eventually, a brighter future."

Dr. Kathryn Hopperton

On 31 May 2018, Kathryn Hopperton, from Toronto University received the DSM Science & Technology Award International 2018 during the 13th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids. Kathryn was recognized for the exceptional contribution of her PhD research in the field of PUFA nutrition.

When and how did your interest in science start?

My interest in science started at a very young age. My dad loves nature and we spent a lot of time together in the outdoors ever since I was young. 

"When I would see something in nature that I was curious about, he would use it as an opportunity for us to research more about it in our biology books. That taught me to always ask questions about the world, and seek answers. That’s how my interest in science started.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the scientific world?

That's an easy answer, my supervisor Richard Bazinet! I admire his passion for science and the way he sees the world. He is the kind of person who knows exactly how to bring out the best in people. I am grateful and honored to have been part of his group. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to pay it forward and be a good mentor and inspiration for other people in the early days of their career.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the field of PUFA nutrition and related topics?

I sort of fell into that subject. I am more broadly interested in nutrition, but sometimes it depends on the people you meet and the opportunities you get that determine your career. During my masters I was working on fatty acids in cancer cells, and this led to my attending my first ISSFAL congress. ISSFAL showcases a lot of high quality PUFA research, so this really sparked my interest in the topic.  I also worked with Richard during my Masters, and knew I wanted to continue working with him, which resulted in pursuing my career in this field of research.

Which societal challenges can we solve with your research?

Alzheimer’s Disease is an enormous problem in the world, and will only become larger as our population ages. This will have an enormous impact both socially and economically. My research is basic science, and I do not pretend that it is going to answer all the questions, but I have been able to provide a piece of the puzzle to help us better understand the biology of Alzheimer’s Disease and a mechanism that might underlie the potential protective effects of omega-3 PUFA.

What does it mean for you to win this award?

It means a lot! I always kept an eye on the outcome of this award as a student and was inspired by the work of the finalists.  It is really humbling to be the winner of the 2018 edition, and to be in a position where my research might inspire others.

What will be the next steps in your career?

Right now, I'm pursuing a postdoc at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. I am focusing on research related to infant nutrition. In terms of my long-term career, I am not entirely sure yet. Let’s see where life takes me…

Read more

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