Dickey receives 2021 R.J. Reynolds Award
Michael Dickey, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University, received the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension on November 11, 2021. At the award ceremony, he delivered a lecture called “Beyond the terminator: liquid metals, stretchable electronics and shape changing materials.”
“This is a $25,000 award, and it is given in increments of $5,000 over a five-year period, but more importantly it is the most prestigious award that the College of Engineering presents to an individual faculty member,” said Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College, at the ceremony.
Since its inception in 1981, 37 faculty members have the award, which is supported by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company through the NC State Engineering Foundation.
During his time at NC State, students have reported that Dickey is invested in their personal success and encourages their research and professional interests. He received the Outstanding Teaching Award, a reflection of his exceptional teaching evaluations. In addition to teaching, he involves undergraduates in his laboratory, where he also mentors graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He founded the Future Leaders in Chemical Engineering symposium, which was first held in 2017. This symposium provides a platform for students to present the best undergraduate research in the country.
He is viewed as an international expert in the field of liquid metals based on gallium due to his significant contributions. He helped identify the surface oxide that forms on these metals as an enabler for patterning the metal to form soft, stretchable and shape-reconfigurable conductors. Thanks to his foundational work, the field of liquid metals has grown exponentially. In 2008, three papers were published on liquid metals, two of which were by Dickey. In 2020, 75 papers were published and his work was cited 1,025 times by other scholars.
He is a prolific researcher. Dickey has collaborated with 30 different faculty members at NC State on various research. Over the past three years, he has published or submitted 100 peer-reviewed papers. He’s been invited to speak at various universities and TEDx, in addition to being featured in prominent publications such as Physics Today and Advanced Materials. His work has also been highlighted in nonacademic publications, such as Forbes, BBC and The New York Times. C&E News recognized his research as the “Top Research of 2016.”
His contributions to research and teaching have been recognized with numerous awards. These include Distinguished Leadership and Contributions to Scientific Research Award from Sigma Xi, American Chemical Society Distinguished Speaker of the Year from the North Carolina chapter, Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Engineering Research Award and Curtis W. McGraw Research Award. He was also selected to the Defense Science Study Group. This year, he was named one of the world’s top 2 percent scientists by Stanford University. In recognition of his commitment to fostering undergraduate research, the eponymous Outstanding Research Mentor Award was named after him, and he received the inaugural award in 2020.
Dickey completed both his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He came to NC State in 2008 as an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering before being promoted to associate professor in 2013, professor in 2015, Alcoa Professor in 2018 and Camille and Henry Dreyfus Professor in April of this year.
Recent recipients of the award include Jacob Jones, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Jan Genzer, S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Youngsoo “Richard” Kim, Jimmy D. Clark Distinguished University Professor; and Orlin Velev, S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
“When Louis gave the former recipients of the award a chance to stand up, the people that stood up are some of my heroes and role models and mentors that I’ve looked up to for a long time, every single one of them,” said Dickey at the ceremony. “So, it’s really an honor to be included in that group, and I’m just pinching myself.”