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USM Polymer Science Assistant Professor Earns Prestigious Junior Faculty Award

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 17:44pm | By: Van Arnold

Dr. Yoan SimonDr. Yoan Simon, Assistant Professor in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi, has earned a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award presented by the National Science Foundation.

The highly coveted award is distributed in support of early-career faculty who have demonstrated the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Simon, a native of Montpellier, France, has been a member of the USM faculty since 2016. The award includes a five-year, $581,000 grant to support his research.

When asked his reaction upon learning that he had secured the award, Simon could barely contain his excitement. “Just an immense joy, a sense of pride, but also some gratefulness for my group members, my mentors and my family who have supported me at different stages,” he said.

Simon’s research group currently consists of six graduate students, one post-doctoral student and five undergraduates. He notes that his team is primarily a polymer synthesis group that focuses on stimuli-responsive materials – ones that can respond in a programmable fashion to external cues. The funded project revolves around the fabrication of molecular gates that allow flow through membranes, especially those of polymer vesicles.

Derek L. Patton, Interim Director and Associate Professor in USM’s School of Polymer Science and Engineering, points out that the NSF CAREER is among the more prestigious awards any junior faculty member can obtain.

“The award recognizes Dr. Simon’s successes and future potential as an outstanding teacher-scholar engaged in cutting-edge research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the University mission,” said Patton. “His work in the area of synthesis and self-assembly of stimuli responsive bottlebrush polymers has important implications, and I am excited to see where he leads the field.”

Simon acknowledges the personal and professional rewards of capturing the CAREER award, while also underscoring the benefits such recognition brings to the University and polymer science in general.

“Hopefully, it will generate a positive impact for the local community and the next generation of scientists as many broader impacts of this work aim to bolster STEM disciplines,” he said. “I am also deeply committed to fostering diversity in the field and hope to leverage this award to promote it.”