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Professor Steven P. Armes

Materials Sciences Award 2016

On 20 July 2016, Steven P. Armes received the annual DSM Materials Science Award at a special ceremony at the University of Sheffield, in recognition for his exceptional contribution to the advancement of macromolecular architecture. An international jury, chaired by Dr. Marcel Wubbolts, selected Professor Armes from among candidates proposed in a public call for nominations.
Steven P. Armes receives the DSM Materials Science Award 2016

Dr. Wubbolts commented: “The jury has recognized the broad impact of Professor Armes’ work, as is also exemplified by statements of experts in the field of Polymer Chemistry. The theme of this year’s Award was Macromolecular Architecture for Brighter Living, and Prof. Armes’ work resonates with all aspects of this theme. Professor Armes has also been actively involved in turning academic knowledge into societally relevant solutions to needs.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, Professor Armes thanked the jury and said: “I’m delighted to accept this Award on behalf of the past and current members of my research group, whose hard work and enthusiasm keep me motivated.” After the ceremony, Professor Armes told us about his long-standing fascination with science, and how he came to work in the field of polymer chemistry."

From stink bombs to the Royal Society

When I was 14, I had a particularly inspiring Chemistry teacher, who had previously worked in the chemical industry before going into education,” says Professor Armes. “He ‘lent’ me various chemicals so that I could do my own experiments in my bedroom, including the obligatory stink bombs, chemical rockets, and loud bangs. I don’t think Health and Safety regulations would allow school teachers to inspire students in the same way nowadays, but it certainly worked for me!

After high school, I went on to study Chemistry at Bristol University. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in 1983 and my Ph.D. in 1987. Although I received several job offers from companies such as ICI, BP and Unilever, I decided to take a two-year post-doctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and I have never regretted my decision to become an academic. I went on to hold positions at the University of Sussex, and moved to Sheffield University in 2004. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 for my work on water-soluble polymers and water-borne polymer particles.”

A bright and exciting future

Looking to the future, I plan to see out my academic career at Sheffield University. Over the next few years, my group will focus on gaining a better understanding of polymerization self-assembly (PISA). I would also like to continue to work closely with various companies, including DSM, to identify and tackle important technological problems in the field of polymer chemistry, colloid science, and emulsions.”

"One of the nice aspects of academic life is seeing enthusiastic young graduates grow into excellent research scientists during their Ph.D. studies. I hope to graduate quite a few more Ph.D. scientists in the remaining 13 years of my scientific career.”