July 23, 2014  

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Southern Miss Professor Lochhead Receives Chemical Pioneer Award

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Dr. Robert Lochhead

The list of career accolades continues to grow for University of Southern Mississippi polymer science researcher Dr. Robert Lochhead, who has been selected to receive the Chemical Pioneer Award by the American Institute of Chemists (AIC).

Lochhead, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at Southern Miss, will be honored for “stellar accomplishments in the field of polymer science and engineering” during the Chemical Heritage Foundation ceremony on April 13 in Philadelphia, Pa. The event will also include Lochhead’s induction as an AIC Fellow.

“This was a complete surprise to me. I am not even a member of the American Institute of Chemists,” said Lochhead. “This represents sincere recognition by my professional peers at the highest level in the nation.”

After a distinguished 25-year industrial career, Lochhead joined the Southern Miss faculty in 1990. He became chair of the Department of Polymer Science (since renamed) in 1993. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and holds 18 U.S. patents – some for polymers that are used extensively in households and businesses worldwide.

Among his notable achievements is the invention of polymeric emulsifiers – a new class of compounds that made the following products possible:

  • Skin lotions for sensitive skin (for example “Oil of Olay”)
  • Agriculture sprays to control drift and to minimize run-off (for example “Roundup”)
  • Water-borne water seals that comply with Federal Clean Air Act (for example “Thompson’s Water Seal”)
  • Sport sunscreen

Much of Lochhead’s current research involves creating and testing new dispersants and absorbents to treat oil spills like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. Additionally, research continues on polymer-surfactant coacervates – the ingredients that make 2-in-1 shampoos work so effectively and referred to in the chemical arena as the “Lochhead Effect.”

“I just regard it as my duty to be an innovator,” said Lochhead. “That’s what researchers are supposed to do. At this stage I do not think that winning awards will change my career, but it is an accolade for Southern Miss that underlines the quality of work that we do here.”

For more information about the Southern Miss School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, call 601.266.4868 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/polymer/