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Quadrant Award 2015

Quadrant, a global leader in the manufacturing of high-performance thermoplastics and composites, conferred the coveted international «Quadrant Award» for the sixth time on Friday, January 30, 2015. The international invitation to submit entries for the award, which has the goal to reward academic excellence, was addressed to graduates who had written a doctoral thesis in the field of «Materials and processes related to engineering and high-performance plastics and composites» between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2014. Of the four prizewinners, the US researcher Dr. Peter DeMuth won the first prize of EUR 15 000. Dr. DeMuth wrote his thesis at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. After completing his doctorate in 2013, Dr. DeMuth joined Vedantra Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based biotech company focused on materials science approaches for immunotherapy in oncology, where he now serves as Senior Scientist for pre-clinical research. The other three Quadrant Award winners, who have won prizes of EUR 5 000 each, are (in alphabetical order): Dr. Darshil Upendra Shah (India), University of Nottingham, UK, post-doctoral position at Cambridge University, UK, developing wood and bamboo composites for the construction of sustainable, tall buildings; Dr. Jing Yan (China), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, post-doctoral position in Mechanical Engineering & Molecular Biology at Princeton University, USA, and Dr. Rong Yang (China) / Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, post-doctoral position, Department of Anesthesia / Department of Chemical Engineering at Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. The event took place at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and the agenda included for the first time also presentations from industry leaders.

The academic jury awarded the first prize to Peter DeMuth for his thesis entitled «Engineered Microneedles for Transcutaneous Vaccine Delivery» for «outstanding creativity in transforming elements of fundamental engineering and science into a product concept of high societal potential. The work covers a broad spectrum of engineering problem solving and understanding of bioengineering concepts in order to reach commercially viable vaccine delivery products.»

The three other Quadrant Award winners, who have won prizes of EUR 5 000 each are (in alphabetical order):

Darshil Upendra Shah was awarded for the thesis entitled «Characterisation and Optimisation of the Mechanical Performance of Plant Fibre Composites for Structural Applications» for «critically analyzing the complex relation between microstructure and mechanical properties of flax fiber reinforced composites. He then proved that these bio-based materials can be used in high performance applications by developing a flexible windmill blade suitable for small wind power systems.»

Jing Yan was awarded for the thesis entitled «Collective Behavior of Driven Janus Colloids in External Fields» for «developing a creative model system to study the interaction of bipolar particles with electric and magnetic fields. His Janus colloids reveal complex behavior, from spatio-temporal self-organization to critical phase transitions. Such materials may find future use in controlling nanoparticle flow or tailoring properties of host matrices.»

Rong Yang was awarded for the thesis entitled «Prevention of Biofouling in Seawater Desalination via Initiated Chemical Vapor Deposition» for «developing technology that addresses a critical engineering need in the application of reverse osmosis membranes to the production of desalinated water. Surface modification of currently employed commercial membranes with zwitterionic groups has been demonstrated to alleviate biofouling with remarkable efficiency.»

The members of the academic jury are on the staff of internationally acclaimed universities or institutions, have many years of experience in the field of materials and polymer sciences, and supervise numerous doctoral candidates annually. The six members of the academic jury are:

Professor Dr. Volker Altstädt
University of Bayreuth, Germany, Chair of Department for Polymer Engineering in the Faculty for Applied Natural Science

Professor Dr. Frank S. Bates
University of Minnesota, USA, Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor Dr. Martin Gruebele
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, James R. Eiszner Chair in Chemistry, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Biophysics and Computational Biology

Professor Dr. Jan-Anders Månson
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Technology

Professor Dr. Toshio Nishi
Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, Special Professor; Program Director, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

Professor Dr. Ignaas Verpoest
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Professor in Composite Materials at the Department of Materials Engineering (MTM)

Professor Dr. Paolo Ermanni, ETH Zurich, Laboratory of Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures, presided. Dr. Tadashi Kajiya / Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Germany, and Quadrant Award Winner 2011, also attended the event and talked about his life and career after winning the prize.

The number of international entries received was very encouraging (56 in total / by university: 23 from the Americas, 4 from Asia Pacific, 29 from Europe/Africa; by nationality: 12 from the Americas, 16 from Asia Pacific, 28 from Europe/Africa). We are pleased to see that the quality of papers submitted continues to rise. The launch of the international Quadrant Award is intended to reward academic excellence and to foster talent worldwide.

Quadrant also aims to make a contribution in building a bridge between industry and academia. To further encourage the interchange between industry and academia, the program was expanded to include the following presentations:

Lightweight Design Strategies in Automotive Production
Dr. Hansjörg Kurz / Volkswagen AG, Germany, Technology Planning and Development Production Processes Volkswagen Brand

Microstructured Composites
Prof. Dr. André R. Studart / ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Professorship Complex Materials; Director, Competence Center for Materials & Processes (MaP)

The Role of High Performance Polymers in Healthcare
Christoph Koslowski / Solvay (Schweiz) AG, Switzerland, Senior Sales Development Manager – Healthcare Europe

The next Quadrant Award is planned to be conferred in 2017.

The award presented was designed by the internationally distinguished Swiss artist Beat Zoderer. The design of the artist's multiple is based on the artist's idea that thermoplastics can be worked in the liquid state. Liquid plastic dripping onto an object such as paper or a panel forms drops of different sizes, which also resemble the emergence of innovative ideas in the form of «drops of imagination». Beat Zoderer has translated this idea into a relief landscape of circles. The base material used was a sheet of Ertacetal C blue 50 plastic produced at Quadrant's plant in Tielt, Belgium.