Professor Doros Theodorou
DSM Materials Sciences Award 2018
“It is truly a career highlight for me to win this lifetime award because I respect the work of DSM in materials science so much,” says Theodorou. “I’ve been involved with the company since the 1990s and hope to continue doing so in future.”
The award was bestowed for the Professor’s work in the molecular and meso-scale modeling of polymers - which started way back in 1985 with the publication of his influential PhD papers on the topic of predicting the structure and mechanical properties of glassy amorphous polymers.
While computation modeling might seem like a recent phenomenon, the first molecular simulations happened way back in the 1950s. “There have been many great scientists that preceded me in this work, not least my own tutor and mentor at MIT, Dr. Suter,” says Theodorou. “I just see myself as continuing this work. The big difference now is of course the immense computational power we have at our disposal. It doubles roughly every 18 months, so, coupled with new methods and algorithms we are developing, it gives rise to endless possibilities!”
“Computational modeling of materials is a complex field but essentially what we are doing is using modern computers to predict how material building blocks arrange themselves in space, how they will move and interact with each other - and what properties they have. Are they stiff and strong? Are they waterproof? Are they permeable? Do they have good flow for manufacturing purposes? Can they be tolerated inside the body?”, says Theodorou.
Theodorou has earned much praise for his open way of working, and his efforts to educate a whole generation of researchers, thereby making it easier for them to build on his findings. “By using computational science to answer the thousands of ‘what if’ questions surrounding potential new materials, Professor Dr. D Theodorou and his team are enabling commercial science companies such as DSM to bring game-changing and often life-changing innovations - like biomedical devices – to market faster and more efficiently,” noted Dr. Marcus Remmers, DSM’s Chief technology Officer, and chair of the international scientific jury for this award.
And what advice does Doros have for the next generation of researchers and scientists coming through? “The most important thing is to master the fundamental principles of your chosen field,” he says. “Also, have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish; and keep an open mind. In my experience, minds are like parachutes. They function best when they are open!’
Next on the Professor’s list is stepping up research into coarse graining – the study of computational polymer modeling beyond the nano level. For now, Theodorou can enjoy the latest in a very long list of industry accolades.