Physics and astronomy professor receives award

By Lynn Easson-Irvine, October 23, 2007

    Kari Dalnoki-Veress, associate professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Below, a drop of liquid forms a stack of discs that make it appear conical in shape. Photos courtesy of Faculty of Science.
McMaster University has many talented young scholars who are garnering international accolades. Kari Dalnoki-Veress, associate professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, was just awarded the 2008 John H. Dillon Medal of the American Physical Society.

The Dillon Medal is presented annually in recognition of outstanding research accomplishments to young polymer physicists who have demonstrated exceptional promise early in their careers.

"It is very exciting to have a young researcher like Dr. Dalnoki-Veress in our midst," said John Capone, dean of the Faculty of Science. "He is not only contributing to his own field of research, but his passion for his work intrinsically strengthens the core ideals of research and teaching within the Faculty of Science and McMaster University as a whole."

Dalnoki-Veress' research mainly focuses on the study of soft polymeric materials.

"Polymers are long-chain molecules: DNA, plastics, rubbers and even additives in shampoo and ice cream," he explains. "These polymers have some remarkable material properties. An example of this is toothpaste, which is both solid and liquid. Another name for this is viscoelasticity."

Currently in Dalnoki-Veress' lab, the emphasis is on investigating properies, such as viscoelasticity, and the impacts of modifying variables such as lengthscale.

His PhD student, Andrew Croll, is studying liquid droplets that have internal structure. As the liquid forms layers, the layered structure results in a global structure of the droplets, which is many times smaller than a human hair.

"Rather than forming a round droplet like the dew we see on a spider's web, Nature chooses to make them into a conical-like shape," explains Dalnoki-Veress. "This type of research helps increase our understanding of material properties at a fundamental level, which is crucial to the development of new technologies."

Dalnoki-Veress will be presented with his medal when he addresses the Division of Polymer Physics in a Medal Lecture at the 2008 APS March Meeting in New Orleans.

"I have been very impressed by the people that have won the Dillon medal in the past and it was clear to me that these people had 'made it,'" he says. "Being part of this group of researchers is an accomplishment that I value greatly and of which I am very proud. However, this is not a single handed effort by a lone researcher. Over the years, I have worked in a supportive environment within the department and with tremendous colleagues both internationally and locally."

He also thanked his graduate and undergraduate students, who he described as "second to none," adding the award is a recognition of the entire research group, not just himself.

The medal comes as no surprise for those who know Dalnoki-Veress and his research. "The whole department is extremely happy with this news, and we congratulate Dr. Dalnoki-Veress on being awarded this prestigious international medal," said David Venus, professor and chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy. "Not only does it confirm our high opinion of him, but it couldn't happen to a nicer guy."