Chemistry Professor Lauren Zarzar receives NSF CAREER Award

Maria Landschoot
March 05, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lauren Zarzar, assistant professor of chemistry, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in recognition of her work on “laser-induced solvothermal synthesis for the direct-write, microscale additive processing of metals and oxides.”

The CAREER award is the NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. The CAREER award will provide five years of funding to support Zarzar’s research to develop manufacturing methods for microscale devices containing mixed material compositions. 

Additive manufacturing, which is the ability to 3D-print materials of arbitrary shape, is currently revolutionizing the way in which products are made. However, most additive manufacturing methods, especially for metals and oxide materials, are conducted on the millimeter scale or larger. Small length scales are important for products such as sensors, electronics, and medical diagnostic devices, which are becoming miniaturized and portable. Furthermore, most additive manufacturing methods are tailored for fabrication of parts containing a single material and are not well-suited for parts combining different materials. Zarzar’s research will explore the use of laser-based manufacturing to address these challenges. Zarzar and her lab group’s research into the ability to additively manufacture microscale parts with tailored composition could enable advances in areas such as healthcare, chemical and biomedical sensing, and energy storage. 

Outside of additive manufacturing, Zarzar’s research focuses on developing dynamic materials that sense and adapt to their surroundings. A recent discovery — a previously unrecognized mechanism for generating structural iridescent color — was featured on the cover of the journal Nature. Her research group has found ways to control complex fluids and emulsions to harness liquids as materials in new ways. 

Zarzar received the Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in chemistry, and a Young Investigator Research Program grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in 2020. She was honored with the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award from the Penn State Materials Research Institute, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and was recognized as one of the Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12 in 2019. Her previous awards and honors include the Unilever Award from the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2019; the Army Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (Army-ECASE), and the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Zarzar was a postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2013 to 2016. She earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at Harvard University in 2013 and bachelor's degrees in chemistry and in economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.

Last Updated March 05, 2021