Delia Milliron to Receive 2017 Norman Hackerman Award

Dr. Delia Milliron receives the 2017 Norman Hackerman AwardThe Welch Foundation, one of the nation’s largest sources of private funding for basic research, today announced that Dr. Delia J. Milliron is a recipient of a 2017 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. She is being recognized as a ‘rising star,’ having contributed significant scientific discoveries at early stages of her career.

Milliron’s discoveries are as diverse as they are significant. She is known as a leader in the field of semiconductor nanocrystals, developing new materials used to create smart windows that could lead to big cost and energy savings for commercial buildings and homeowners.

“Her discovery of a new family of nanocrystals coupled with her ability to transfer fundamental discovery in an academic setting, to real-world applications, all within the span of a few years, has made her a stand-out in the chemical engineering world,” said Peter B. Dervan, chair of The Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.

When applied to glass, these smart window materials, called plasmonic oxide nanocrystals, have the potential to control both the heat and light that passes through the glass, making it possible to heat or cool a building with less energy consumption.

“We began studying plasmonic metal oxide nanocrystals because of their potential to resolve the puzzle of how to separately control light and heat entering buildings as the sun shines through our windows,” said Milliron. “As we have learned more, the rich chemistry and physics of these materials suggests additional possible applications in areas as diverse as catalysis and medical imaging.”

Milliron is currently an associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Milliron spent approximately four years as a researcher for IBM. Upon establishing her own lab at UT Austin, her industrial experience helped attract students and post-doctorates from diverse backgrounds including physics, engineering and synthetic chemistry. Her research led to the discovery of a dynamic infrared coating for windows, that can be manipulated through electrical conduction. The new coating has significant potential applications and Dr. Milliron has formed a company, dubbed Heliotrope, to commercialize this window coating and future iterations.

Milliron is currently an associate editor at one of the American Chemical Society’s most prestigious journals, Nano Letters. Her work has been published in Nano Letters and in various other prominent publications including Nature, Nature Materials, Journal of the American Chemical Society and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Other awards she has received include a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Caltech Resnick Institute Resonate Award, two R&D 100 Awards including one for Universal Smart Windows and a Department of Energy Early Career Award.

2017 marks the first time in the 15 years of the Hackerman Award that two recipients have been honored. Dr. Neal M. Alto, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will also receive the Hackerman award this year for his significant contributions to the global fight against infectious disease.

“Traditionally, we have chosen only one Hackerman Award recipient per year,” said Charles W. Tate, Director and Chair, The Welch Foundation. “This year, however, we would have been remiss not to seize the opportunity to simultaneously recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of both Drs. Milliron and Alto.”

The Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research was established by The Welch Foundation to honor Norman Hackerman, its Scientific Advisory Board chair from 1982 to 2006. The award recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers. It is designed to encourage scientists who are embarking on careers dedicated to increasing our fundamental understanding of chemistry. Upon accepting the award, Drs. Alto and Milliron will each receive $100,000, as well as a stunning crystal sculpture to commemorate the occasion.

The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, is one of America’s largest private funding sources for basic chemical research. Since 1954, the organization has contributed approximately $840 million to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental programs, endowed chairs, and other special projects at educational institutions in Texas.

Milliron is the second Texas ChE faculty member to receive this award. Last year, the Hackerman Award was given to former faculty member Dr. Chris Ellison.

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