Richard J. Spontak

Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

  • Engineering Building I (EB1) 2088E

Dr. Richard J. Spontak is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, and Alumni Distinguished Graduate and Undergraduate Professor at North Carolina State University.

He received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering (with honors/high distinction) from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983 and was later awarded the Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He then pursued post-doctoral research in Materials Science & Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge (U.K.) and Condensed Matter Physics at the Institute for Energy Technology (Norway) before joining the Corporate Research Division of The Procter & Gamble Company in 1990.

In 1992, he accepted a faculty position at North Carolina State University, where he supervises the Macromolecular Materials & Morphology Group. Since that time, Spontak has published over 300 peer-reviewed journal papers and over 35 scholarly works as book chapters and invited monographs, and his work has been featured on 31 journal covers and cited over 14,000 times according to Google Scholar (as of November 2021). Although active in a diverse range of disciplines, his primary research interests relate to the phase behavior and morphology/property development of nanostructured polymers, polymer nanocomposites and coatings, electron microscopy, and stimuli-responsive soft materials.

In recognition of his fundamental and applied research endeavors, he is the recipient of numerous honors and awards such as the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Achievement and Distinguished Engineering Research Awards, Alexander von Humboldt and Tewkesbury fellowships, the North Carolina State University Alumni Outstanding Research and Global Engagement Awards, the 2006 American Chemical Society (PMSE Division) Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science & Engineering, the 2007 German Society for Electron Microscopy Ernst Ruska Prize, the 2008 American Chemical Society (Rubber Division) Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, the 2011 Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining (IOM3) Colwyn Medal, the 2012 Norwegian University of Science & Technology Lars Onsager Medal, the 2015 Society of Plastics Engineers International Award, the 2021 Tau Beta Pi Distinguished Alumni Award, and the 2021 International Association of Advanced Materials Researcher of the Year Award.

An elected fellow of the American Physical Society, IOM3, and the Royal Society of Chemistry, he is or has been on the editorial advisory board of more than 20 international journals and holds editorial positions on three of them. He has been recognized as a 2007 Outstanding Scholar Alumnus and a 2012 Alumni Fellow by the Pennsylvania State University, and he is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and the North Carolina State University Research Leadership, Global Engagement and Outstanding Teaching Academies.

Spontak is also a highly acclaimed educator and academic mentor. For his instructional effectiveness employing cooperative and active learning pedagogies in the classroom and his widespread efforts to promote interdisciplinary engineering design and undergraduate research, he has received college- and alumni-level Outstanding Teaching Awards, as well as the university-level Board of Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest institutional honor bestowed by the University of North Carolina system. He has also received the 2006 International Network for Engineering Education & Research Recognition Award and the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Southeast Region Outstanding Mid-Career Teaching Award, and he has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist and an Erasmus Fellow.

Spontak resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Josie and has two children, Danielle and Joshua.

Education

Research Fellow 1989

Soft Condensed-Matter Physics

Institute for Energy Technology

Research Fellow 1989

Materials Science & Metallurgy

University of Cambridge

Ph.D. 1988

Chemical Engineering

University of California at Berkeley

B.S. 1983

Chemical Engineering

Pennsylvania State University

Research Description

Focus Areas - Polymer Morphology and Phase Stability. Multifunctional and Nanostructured Polymers, Blends and Networks. Application of Microscopy Techniques to Polymer Science and Engineering.

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society , 2021
  • International Award, Society of Plastics Engineers, 2015
  • Elected Member, Norwegian Academy of Technol. Sci., 2015
  • Lars Onsager Professorship and Medal, Norwegian Univ. Sci. and Technol., 2012
  • Colwyn Medal, Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, 2011
  • Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, American Chemical Society (Rubber Division), 2008
  • Board of Governors' Award for Excellence in Teaching, NC State University, 2008
  • Ernst Ruska Prize, German Electron Microscopy Society , 2007
  • Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science, American Chemical Society (PMSE Division), 2006
  • Outstanding Research Award, NC State Alumni Association , 2005

Publications

Anion-Specific Water Interactions with Nanochitin: Donnan and Osmotic Pressure Effects as Revealed by Quartz Microgravimetry
Jin, S.-A., Khan, S. A., Spontak, R. J., & Rojas, O. J. (2021), LANGMUIR, 9. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.langmuir.1c01585
Cellulose nanofibers and the film-formation dilemma: Drying temperature and tunable optical, mechanical and wetting properties of nanocomposite films composed of waterborne sulfopolyesters
Jin, S.-A., Facchine, E. G., Rojas, O. J., Khan, S. A., & Spontak, R. J. (2021), JOURNAL OF COLLOID AND INTERFACE SCIENCE, 9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcis.2021.04.032
Mesophase characteristics of cellulose nanocrystal films prepared from electrolyte suspensions
Jin, S.-A., Facchine, E. G., Khan, S. A., Rojas, O. J., & Spontak, R. J. (2021), JOURNAL OF COLLOID AND INTERFACE SCIENCE, 10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcis.2021.04.071
Morphological Studies of Solution-Crystallized Thermoplastic Elastomers with Polyethylene Endblocks and a Random-Copolymer Midblock
Yan, J., Lee, B., Smith, S. D., & Spontak, R. J. (2021, September 22), MACROMOLECULAR RAPID COMMUNICATIONS, Vol. 9. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.202100442
Photodynamic Coatings on Polymer Microfibers for Pathogen Inactivation: Effects of Application Method and Composition
Peddinti, B. S. T., Morales-Gagnon, N., Pourdeyhimi, B., Scholle, F., Spontak, R. J., & Ghiladi, R. A. (2021), ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 13(1), 155–163. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.0c16953
Rapid and Repetitive Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 and Human Coronavirus on Self-Disinfecting Anionic Polymers
Peddinti, B. S. T., Downs, S. N., Yan, J., Smith, S. D., Ghiladi, R. A., Mhetar, V., … Spontak, R. J. (2021), ADVANCED SCIENCE. https://doi.org/10.1002/advs.202003503
Toward Universal Photodynamic Coatings for Infection Control
Ghareeb, C. R., Peddinti, B. S. T., Kisthardt, S. C., Scholle, F., Spontak, R. J., & Ghiladi, R. A. (2021), FRONTIERS IN MEDICINE, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.657837
Form-stable phase-change elastomer gels derived from thermoplastic elastomer copolyesters swollen with fatty acids
Armstrong, D. P., Chatterjee, K., Ghosh, T. K., & Spontak, R. J. (2020), THERMOCHIMICA ACTA, 686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tca.2020.178566
Gas-separation and physical properties of ABA triblock copolymers synthesized from polyimide and hydrophilic adamantane derivatives
Ito, T., Shiota, R., Taniguchi, N., Spontak, R. J., & Nagai, K. (2020), POLYMER, 202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymer.2020.122642
Humidity-responsive molecular gate-opening mechanism for gas separation in ultraselective nanocellulose/IL hybrid membranes
Janakiram, S., Ansaloni, L., Jin, S.-A., Yu, X., Dai, Z., Spontak, R. J., & Deng, L. (2020), GREEN CHEMISTRY, 22(11), 3546–3557. https://doi.org/10.1039/d0gc00544d

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