Dr. Donald W. Brenner, Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and associate department head of Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the twenty-fifth recipient of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension. Brenner will receive the award in a ceremony held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, November 3, in 135 Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center at NC State. The award presentation was followed by Brenner’s lecture “The Joy of Molecular Simulation (in an Engineering College).”
The award was established in 1981 within the College of Engineering to honor a member of the Engineering faculty who has demonstrated superiority in several areas of activity that relate to the University’s three-fold mission of teaching, research and extension. The annual award is supported by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company through the North Carolina Engineering Foundation Inc. to bring recognition to scientific and educational achievements in fields of engineering. The recipient is given a $25,000 prize distributed over five years.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Donald W. Brenner has been one of the world’s leading innovators in research and education in computational materials science. His achievements have led to increased recognition of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and have made him an inspirational leader for faculty and students in the College.
In the 1980s, Brenner pioneered the development and application of reactive force fields. His bond-order potentials, which have been used in more than 125 institutions in 25 countries, continue to be recognized as the worldwide standard for modeling carbon structures. His first papers on nanotechnology were published in 1994, and a few years later he began giving tutorials on nanotechnology at national meetings and continuing education workshops. These efforts predate the National Nanotechnology Initiative by several years.
Brenner joined the faculty at NC State in 1994 after spending seven years as a research chemist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. During his 15-year career at NC State, Brenner has been the principal or co-principal investigator on 38 funded grants totaling more than $17.8 million in research support. These grants have been part of six Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives, two Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Teams and two Materials World Network programs. He has published 199 papers that have been cited more than 6,400 times.
Brenner maintains a rich and diverse research program at NC State. His research efforts focus on the use of atomistic simulations to study many-body chemical dynamics in condensed phases, including solid-state shock dynamics, thin film deposition, tip-surface interactions, tribology, and predicted properties of fullerene-based materials.
Brenner is a recipient of the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Research Achievement Award, the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the NC State College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, and the 2002 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for research in nanotechnology, which recognizes advances he made in molecular machine systems modeling and the design and analysis of components likely to be important to the future of molecular manufacturing.
He received his B.S. in chemistry in 1982 from the State University of New York and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1987 from Pennsylvania State University.