Thanks to Texas A&M chemist Karen Wooley's expertise at scales 100 times thinner than a human hair and the versatility of polymers, the research possibilities are highly adaptable and virtually limitless in a host of industries and applications ranging from materials to medicine. (Credit: Jim Lyle, Texas Transportation Institute.)


Karen L. Wooley, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive the American Chemical Society's 2015 Oesper Award.

Jointly awarded each year by the University of Cincinnati Department of Chemistry and the Cincinnati Section of ACS, the Oesper Award recognizes outstanding chemists for lifetime significant accomplishments in the field of chemistry with long-lasting impact on the chemical sciences. First awarded in 1981, it is named for longtime UC chemist Dr. Ralph Edward Oesper, whose bequest to UC Chemistry -- made in his name and that of his wife, Helen Wilson Oesper -- established the annual Oesper Symposium.

Wooley, who joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty in 2009 as holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is widely respected as a top international chemist in the burgeoning field of materials and polymer chemistry. In 2014, she earned the Royal Society of Chemistry's Centenary Prize and was recognized as the first woman to receive the ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry. Most recently, she was elected as a 2015 fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the country's oldest and most prestigious honorary learned societies.

Wooley will be presented with her award at the upcoming 2015 Ralph and Helen Oesper Symposium and Banquet, set for Friday, Nov. 13, on the UC campus. As this year's Oesper Award winner, Wooley will deliver the symposium's keynote presentation detailing her current research on natural product-based engineering polymers for orthopedic, drug delivery and other applications.

"Award winners are selected by the faculty of the department," said Dr. François P. Gabbaï, head of the Department of Chemistry and holder of the A.E. Martell Endowed Chair. "Considering that nine Nobel laureates have also received this award, it's fair to say Dr. Wooley is in rather eminent company -- another honor for which we heartily congratulate and applaud her."

Wooley's 30-member research group spans seven distinct project areas and has an annual budget of more than $1.5 million, all dedicated toward some pioneering facet of organic polymer-based chemistry focused on creating new matter at the nanoscale level. The National Science Foundation has supported her research, education and outreach activities for more than 20 years. In addition, she has served for the past 10 years as the director of a $33 million National Institutes of Health Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology (PEN) supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Wooley's current research interests include the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers, unique macromolecular architectures and complex polymer assemblies, and the design and development of well-defined nanostructured materials. She and her research group specialize in creating polymer-coated nanoparticles and nanocages 100 times thinner than a single human hair that can absorb, adhere to or encapsulate a variety of substances and materials to address specific needs and problems, primarily in biomedical, environmental and engineering-related areas and industries.

Wooley, who also holds a second joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering since 2014, currently is an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society and has many other advisory roles within the broader scientific community.

Click here to learn more about the Oesper Award or the Oesper Symposium.

For additional information about Wooley and her research, visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/wooley.

# # # # # # # # # #

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $820 million in FY 2013, ranking Texas A&M in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's most recent survey of research and development expenditures among U.S. colleges and universities. Recently reported FY 2014 research expenditures exceed $854 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Karen L. Wooley, (979) 845-4077 or wooley@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Karen L. Wooley

    (Credit: Jim Lyle, Texas Transportation Institute.)

  • Wooley's 30-member research group spans seven distinct project areas and manages an annual budget of more than $1.5 million. The lab features graduate students and postdocs, as well as undergraduates -- each responsible for a variety of roles critical to myriad research projects sponsored by the likes of the National Science Foundation, The Welch Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the National Institutes of Health, among others. (Credit: Robb Kendrick/Texas A&M Foundation.)

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

College of Science
517 Blocker
TAMU 3257 | 979-845-7361
Site Policies
Contact Webmaster
Social Media