Robert Moore, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, recently became the new director of the Virginia Tech Macromolecules Innovation Institute (MII), an interdisciplinary science and engineering research center focused on polymeric materials, recently transitioned to new leadership.

“Virginia Tech [has] a unique and dominant destination in the area of macromolecular science and engineering, and I have a very strong desire to foster and grow our tremendous reputation on the national and international stage,” Moore said.

He takes over from Christopher Williams, the L.S. Randolph Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Williams was appointed interim director of MII in February, taking over for Timothy Long, a professor of chemistry, who took the director’s chair in 2007. MII was founded in 2004 under the leadership of Richard Turner, a director emeritus and research professor, also with the Department of Chemistry, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science.

The position is a three-year appointment.

“Bob Moore is a leading, well-cited expert in the field of polymer chemistry,” said Don Taylor, interim vice president for the Office of Research and Innovation. “Bob continues to have a successful career in research, teaching, service, and scholarship, but is also a skilled academic leader. He will be a tremendous leader for the institute.”

MII’s mission is to harness Virginia Tech’s scientific and engineering expertise in polymers — crucial materials in the multibillion dollar chemical and manufacturing industries. Virginia Tech has enjoyed an extensive history of polymer research from predecessor organizations of MII dating back to the 1970s. The organization now boasts more than 60 affiliated faculty, 43 students in its macromolecular science and engineering (MACR) graduate degree program, and many more MII-affiliated students.

MII also supports interdisciplinary collaborations between faculty and regularly holds an annual technical conference, summer research experiences for undergraduate students, and industrial short courses.

Its research areas include materials for alternate energy conversion and energy storage, electronics, medical devices, 3D printing, natural and synthetic polymers, food packaging technologies, and a vast array of applications vital for manufacturing and the economy. MII works with an advisory board of 12 experts hailing from the chemical, biological, engineering, energy, and consumer products industries.

Moore joined the Virginia Tech community in August 2007. He was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2013, earned a distinguished service award from the ACS’s Division of Polymer Chemistry in 2012, and was named a Fellow of the same division in 2011.

Moore’s research focuses on nanoscale characterization of ion-containing polymers, thermo-reversible gels, and functionalization of semi-crystalline polymers in the gel state.

Chris Williams, the outgoing interim director, said, “MII has a culture rooted in trust and collaboration that has been dutifully created by its past directors over the past three decades; MII directors are charged with cultivating this community to engage faculty and students in interdisciplinary collaboration. In my opinion, Bob Moore is the ideal person for this position.”

Added Turner, the founding director of MII: “Bob is an internationally known polymer scientist, who has held numerous leadership positions in the external polymer community, and leads a well-funded diverse research group. His previous roles in MII as the director of the [MACR] graduate degree program and his service as associate director of research for the Institute for Critical Thinking and Applied Science will provide him with valuable experiences for leading the important polymer program.” 

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