Professor Eugenia Kumacheva wins de Gennes Prize

May 7, 2019 by Dan Haves

Professor Eugenia Kumacheva has been named winner of the prestigious de Gennes Prize awarded biannually for outstanding and exceptional work in the field of materials chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.)

Prof. Kumacheva has won the award for the design of soft and self-assembled new materials with biomedical applications.

“I am thrilled to be recognized with this prize for my work in the field of soft matter,” she says. "It is in part owed to Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, an outstanding scientist, a Nobel Prize winner for Physics and a very special person who strongly influenced my career – from my postdoctoral research until now.”

Prof. Kumacheva met de Gennes when she was a new faculty member at U of T and she remembers the support he gave her as an emerging scientist.

“Here is someone who was won a Nobel Prize but he was never talking about his own work,” she says. “He was always most excited when talking about others’ research.”

De Gennes was also instrumental in the founding of the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science prize and, in 2008, Prof. Kumacheva became the first Canadian to receive this honour.

Prof. Kumacheva's work focuses on a broad range of soft materials that have a wide range of applications, including drug delivery, wound dressings, scaffolds for cell culture and soft robotics.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards and Prizes are awarded in recognition of originality and impact of research, or for each winner’s contribution to the chemical sciences industry or education. They also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, as well as the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

Of those to have won a Royal Society of Chemistry Award, an illustrious list of 50 have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.