BLACKSBURG, Va., April 22, 2011 – Judy S. Riffle, professor of chemistry in the College of Science and director of Macromolecular Science and Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2011 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research.
Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Research is presented annually to as many as two Virginia Tech faculty members who have made outstanding research contributions. Alumni, students, faculty, and staff may nominate candidates. Each recipient is awarded $2,000.
Riffle, who joined the Department of Chemistry in 1988, was recognized for her significant contributions to the fundamental science of polymeric materials and for her interdisciplinary contributions to polymers in medicine. Her polymer research has led to the development of blood compatible materials, used in heart transplants and arterial grafts, and to highly oxygen-permeable extended-wear contact lenses.
More recently, her research has focused on synthesis and assembly of core-shell nanostructures that carry therapeutic molecules or diagnostic agents in their cores. This approach allows for the independent molecular design of cores that will interact with the therapeutic/imaging agents and coronas that interact with the physiological and cell environments.
Her research focuses on the molecular design and assembly of well-defined macromolecules and she collaborates closely with others in the biological sciences, physics, and engineering to understand how the properties of her materials relate to societal needs in nanomedicine.
In addition to her research, Riffle has initiated interdepartmental graduate programs in macromolecular science and engineering. She also led a National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training initiative, which encompassed students and faculty from six interdisciplinary departments.
In 2010, she was named an American Chemical Society Fellow for her accomplishments in chemistry and her contributions to the world’s largest scientific society.
Also in 2010, Riffle received the College of Science Diversity Award for her role in facilitating the university's participation in a national alliance to attract more minority students to the research fields of polymer science and medicine. She was cited for her leadership in building relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and her success in expanding a summer research program for minorities at the Macromolecules Interfaces Institute.
She received her bachelor's degree and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.
The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.