Keynote Speakers

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Keynote Speakers

Professor Zhenan Bao is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University ( Prior to joining Stanford in 2004, she was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies from 1995-2004. She has over 400 refereed publications and over 60 US patents with a Google Scholar H-Index >110. She pioneered a number of design concepts for organic electronic materials. Her work has enabled flexible electronic circuits and displays. In her recent work, she has developed skin-inspired organic electronic materials, which resulted in unprecedented performance or functions in medical devices, energy storage and environmental applications.

Bao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. She is a Fellow of MRS, ACS, AAAS, SPIE, ACS PMSE and ACS POLY. She served on the Board of Directors for MRS in 2003-2005 and as an Executive Committee Member for the Polymer Materials Science and Engineering division of the American Chemical Society. She is an Associate Editor for Chemical Sciences.

Bao was selected as Nature’s Ten people who mattered in 2015 for her work on artificial electronic skin. She was awarded the AICHE Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering in 2014, ACS Carl Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award in 2013, ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2011, she was the recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry Beilby Medal and Prize in 2009, the IUPAC Creativity in Applied Polymer Science Prize in 2008, American Chemical Society Team Innovation Award 2001, R&D 100 Award and R&D Magazine’s Editors Choice of the “Best of the Best” new technology for 2001. She has been selected in 2002 by the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee as one of the twelve “Outstanding Young Woman Scientist who is expected to make a substantial impact in chemistry during this century”. She was also selected by MIT Technology Review magazine in 2003 as one of the top 100 young innovators for this century.

Bao is a co-founder and on the Board of Directors for C3 Nano, a silicon-valley venture funded start-up commercializing flexible transparent electrodes.

Joseph M. DeSimone is the Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at NC State University and of Chemistry at UNC. While on leave from his academic appointments, he is currently CEO of Carbon, Inc. in Silicon Valley, which he co-founded with colleagues in 2013.

Dr. DeSimone has published over 350 scientific articles (>35,000 citations; h-index = 87) and has roughly 200 issued patents in his name with over 200 patents pending. He has mentored and trained over 70 postdoctoral research associates and has graduated 80 Ph.D. students from his research group in his career, half of whom are women and people from underrepresented minority groups in the sciences. In 2016 DeSimone was recognized by President Barack Obama with the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor in the U.S. for achievement and leadership in advancing technological progress.

DeSimone is one of fewer than twenty individuals who has been elected to all three branches of the U.S. National Academies: the National Academy of Medicine (2014), the National Academy of Sciences (2012), and the National Academy of Engineering (2005). He is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005).

DeSimone has received over 50 other major awards and recognitions including the 2017 $250,000 Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment; the inaugural $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine; the 2015 Dickson Prize from Carnegie Mellon University; the 2014 Industrial Research Institute Medal; the 2014 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success from the ACS; 2013 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors; the 2012 Walston Chubb Award for Innovation from Sigma Xi; the 2010 AAAS Mentor Award in recognition of his efforts to advance diversity in the chemistry PhD workforce; the 2009 NIH Director's Pioneer Award; the 2009 North Carolina Award, the highest honor the State can bestow to recognize achievements of North Carolinians in the fields of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts and Public Service; the 2008 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation; the 2008 Tar Heel of the Year by the Raleigh News & Observer; the 2005 ACS Award for Creative Invention; the 2002 John Scott Award presented by the City Trusts, Philadelphia, given to “the most deserving” men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the “comfort, welfare and happiness” of mankind; the 2002 Wallace H. Carothers Award from the Delaware Section of the ACS; and the 2000 Oliver Max Gardner Award from the University of North Carolina, given to that person, who in the opinion of the Board of Governors' Committee, “during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race”.

DeSimone's notable inventions include an environmentally friendly manufacturing process that relies on supercritical carbon dioxide instead of water and bio-persistent surfactants (detergents) for the creation of fluoropolymers or high-performance plastics, such as Teflon®. Further, in 2002, DeSimone, along with Dr. Richard Stack (Duke) and Dr. Robert Langer (MIT), co-founded Bioabsorbable Vascular Solutions to commercialize the world's first fully bioabsorbable, drug-eluting cardiac stent. DeSimone has also developed novel, nonflammable polymer electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries that are being commercialized. Additionally, he and students created a new medical device technology that uses iontophoresis to deliver chemotherapeutics directly to solid tumors; this invention is also being commercialized and holds particular promise for the treatment poorly vascularized tumors (e.g. pancreatic) that are difficult to reach via conventional intravenous delivery.

In 2004 DeSimone's research group became heavily focused on harnessing fabrication technologies from the computer industry to design high-performance, cost-effective vaccines and medicines. DeSimone and his team invented a roll-to-roll particle fabrication technology called PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates) that, for the first time, leveraged lithographic processes used in semiconductor manufacturing for the creation particles that could be used in medicine. Over time, the group has exploited the advantages of PRINT to generate “calibration quality” nano-tools to define the geometric (size, shape), surface (zeta potential, stealthing ligands), and deformability limitations associated with the delivery of drugs and vaccines using different dosage forms. DeSimone's laboratory and the PRINT technology became a foundation for the Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence funded by the National Cancer Institute.

In 2004 DeSimone launched Liquidia Technologies based on PRINT, and the company currently employs roughly 50 people in Research Triangle Park, NC. As a privately held company, Liquidia raised over $60 million in venture financing, including the first ever equity investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a for-profit biotech company. In 2018 Liquidia went public, raising $50 million in a successful IPO. Now a NASDAQ company (NASDAQ: LQDA), Liquidia is building on promising clinical trial results for its products, including a novel treatment approach for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

As CEO of Carbon, DeSimone is currently focused on cultivating a recent breakthrough in 3D printing called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). In five short years since its founding, Carbon has raised over $400 million (investors include Google, Fidelity, Nikon, GE, Baillie Gifford, and Sequoia Capital) and has grown rapidly, now employing over 300 people. Invented by DeSimone and colleagues, Carbon's technology is transforming how manufacturing is done in numerous industries, including automotive, dental, footwear, microelectronics, and medicine. For example, in 2017 a major partnership between Carbon and Adidas resulted in the launch of the Futurecraft 4D running shoe, which was named a 2017 top invention by Time Magazine. Carbon is also partnering with Johnson & Johnson Innovation in the medical space to create custom surgical tools, as well as entities like BMW and Ford for manufacturing applications in the auto industry. Further, with its capability to enable mass customization, Carbon's technology has already been widely adopted for the creation of dental products.

Members of the DeSimone research group and others at UNC are also focused on using CLIP to explore fundamental advances in applying 3D printing for the creation of new devices with previously unachievable geometries for applications in medicine. Examples include the development of unique chromatography columns intended for use in drug discovery and novel microneedle structures to enable the painless delivery of drugs through the skin.

DeSimone received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1986 from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1990 from Virginia Tech.

DeSimone Research Group

Robert H. Grubbs Ph.D.

Robert H. Grubbs is currently the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California (, where he has been a faculty member since 1978. Before moving to Caltech, Bob was at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan from 1969 to 1978, where he achieved the rank of Associate Professor. In 2005, Bob was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with R. R. Schrock and Y. Chauvin) for his contributions to the field of olefin metathesis

Robert H. Grubbs — Nobel Biography
Robert H. Grubbs — Nobel Lecture

Matyjaszewski, Krzysztof

Krzysztof (Kris) Matyjaszewski, Ph.D., professor in the department of chemistry at the Mellon College of Science, Carnegie Mellon University, is an internationally recognized polymer chemist who is highly regarded for his vision, his leadership in education and his many collaborative research efforts that have yielded significant innovations in polymer chemistry. He is perhaps best known for the discovery of atom radical transfer polymerization (ATRP), a novel method of polymer synthesis that has revolutionized the way macromolecules are made.

Matyjaszewski Polymer Group

Brigitte Voit is head of the IPF Institute Macromolecular Chemistry and Managing Director/Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the ''Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung e.V.'' Dresden (

Brigitte Voit is also member of the Faculty Natural Sciences / Department of Chemistry at the Technische Universität Dresden and heads the chair of ''Organic Chemistry of Polymers''. She is principle investigator in the "Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden" (cfaed) and the "Centre for Regenerative Therapies Dresden" (CRTD) as well as faculty member of the "Dresden International Graduate School for Biomedicine and Bioengineering" (DIGS-BB), demonstrating the close cooperation with the TU Dresden in the frame of "DRESDEN-concept". 2014 to 2015 Prof. Brigitte Voit has been president of the European Polymer Federation (EPF).

Willson, Grant

Dr. C. Grant Willson is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin where he holds the Rashid Engineering Regent's Chair. He received both his B.S. and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The University of California, Berkley, and his M.S., in organic chemistry, from San Diego State University. He joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 1993. Prior to joining the university, Dr. Willson worked at IBM for 17 years. When he left IBM he was an IBM Fellow and Manager of the Polymer Science and Technology area at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. Dr. Willson is the co-inventor of more than 40 issued U.S. patents and co-author of more than 400 publications. He has advised more than 75 Ph.D. Candidates at the University of Texas.

Dr. Willson's research work is focused on the design and synthesis of functional organic materials with an emphasis on organic materials for microelectronics. His work is supported by grants from both government and industry. His research group includes graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in both Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Departments. He was a co-founder of Molecular Imprints, Inc., an Austin firm that employed more than 100 people and was very recently acquired by Canon.

In addition to being an IBM Fellow, Dr. Willson is a Fellow of ACS, MRS, PMSE, AND SPIE. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the ACS, APS, SPIE, SPE, AAAS, ASEE, ECS and Sigma Xi. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and is an associate editor of ACS Nano. Dr. Willson has received a number of awards for his research, including the Arthur Doolittle Award, the Chemistry of Materials Award, the Carothers Award, The Cooperative Research in Polymer Science and Engineering Award, and Applied Polymer Science Award and the Heroes in Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society and will be presented with the Polymer Chemistry Award at the March ACS Meeting. He was also presented with the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientists Award from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Technical Excellence Award and Aristotle Award from SRC, the Malcolm E. Pruitt Award from the CRC, the Monie A. Ferst Award from Sigma Xi and the Billy and Claude R. Hocott Distinguished Centennial Engineering Research Award from Cockrell School of Engineering. He received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service to Society and he was the recipient of the Dehon Little Award from the AIChE, the Zernike Award from the SPIE, the SEMI North America Award and the Gordon Moore Medal from the ECS. He was presented with the National Medal for Technology and Innovation by the President of the United States and he shared the 2013 Japan Prize with Professor Jean Frechet.