Juan de Pablo, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and deputy director for education and outreach, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “design of macromolecular products and processes via scientific computation.” Election to the National Academy of Engineering is considered to be among the highest professional distinctions awarded to an engineer.
Much of de Pablo’s work entails conducting supercomputer simulations to understand and design new materials from scratch and to find applications for them. He is a leader of simulations of polymeric materials, including DNA dynamics—how DNA molecules arrange and organize themselves and interact with other DNA molecules. He also studies protein aggregation and its poorly understood relationship to various diseases, including type II diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders.
de Pablo began his appointment Sept. 1, 2012, as a founding faculty member of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering. He also co-directs the Center for Hierarchical Materials Design, a partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory. de Pablo also holds a senior scientist appointment at Argonne. Previously, he was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he served as the Howard Curler distinguished professor and Hilldale professor of chemical engineering.
He holds more than 20 patents on multiple technologies, including nine jointly with Paul Nealey, the Brady W. Dougan Professor of Molecular Engineering, another founding faculty member of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. de Pablo has authored or co-authored more than 400 publications and serves as the chair of the editorial board for the interdisciplinary journal, Molecular Systems Design and Engineering. He has said the journal “will help to shape and advance the field of molecular engineering for the future.”
A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society and honorary member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, de Pablo also has received the 2011 Charles Stine Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
de Pablo earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1985. After completing his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990, he conducted postdoctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.