NEWS | March 30, 2012

Dr. Debra Rolison Receives Dual Honors for Advancements in Chemistry

By Daniel Parry

Receiving two awards in the science of chemistry, Dr. Debra Rolison is recognized by the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry for outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and by the Chemical Society of Washington for expanding the scientific frontier of nanostructured materials.

Dr. Rolison is a natural leader and a creative and productive scientist, instilling enthusiasm for science and research in others, said Dr. John N. Russell, Jr., head, NRL Surface Chemistry Branch. A common theme underlying all of her research has been a willingness to explore complex, nanostructured systems, a physicochemical environ that is by no means well-defined.

Presented March 12, at the 2012 Pittcon conference, the Charles N. Reilley Award - given in memory of one of the most distinguished analytical chemists of the 20th century - is sponsored by the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry (SEAC), dedicated to promoting advances in both basic and applied research in electroanalysis, providing a venue for the exchange of ideas among researchers from academia, industry and government and recognizing the achievements and contributions of scientists who work in the field of electroanalytical chemistry.

The Hillebrand Prize, awarded March 22, is presented by the Chemical Society of Washington (CSW) and is awarded annually for original contributions to the science of chemistry. The Hillebrand Prize, named for one of Washington's most distinguished chemists, Dr. William F. Hillebrand, originated in 1924 and is the most prestigious honor given each year by CSW recognizing significant accomplishments in chemistry.

Rolison received a bachelor's in chemistry from Florida Atlantic University in 1975 and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1980, the same year she began her career as a government scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

Her research focuses on multifunctional nanoarchitectures for rate-critical applications such as catalysis, energy storage and conversion and sensors. Rolison's most recent research accomplishments lie in engineering facile transport of electrons, ions and molecules within ultraporous, high surface-area, multifunctional materials.

Among her professional distinctions, Rolison is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society-ACS (2011 class), the American Association for the Advancement of Science-AAAS (2001), the Association for Women in Science (2006), and the Materials Research Society-MRS (Inaugural Class). She is a recipient of the R.A. Glenn (2007) and the A.K. Doolittle (2009) Awards from the Fuel and the Polymer Materials Science and Engineering Divisions of the American Chemical Society, respectively. She received national ACS recognition as the 2011 recipient of the ACS Award for Chemistry of Materials and is one of the 14 researchers profiled by the editors of Science as a major innovator in energy science.

Rolison is also noted for her leadership within the national and international scientific community through numerous activities that include organization of national and international symposia for a range of professional societies (ACS, AAAS, Electrochemical Society [ECS], MRS, and the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies [FACSS]), service on advisory panels including a National Research Council (NRC) committee leading to a classified report on nanotechnology for the intelligence community, serving as editor of SEAC Communications from 1997-2002 and as a member of the SEAC Board of Directors (1996-2001). She was a guest editor of the July 2011 issue of the MRS Bulletin, which focused on electrical energy storage to power the 21st century, and was co-editor of an MRS Transactions Aerogels and Aerogel-inspired Materials. She recently represented the ACS Inorganic Chemistry Division on the ACS council and has been a national voice for diversity in science and engineering.