Paul Podsiadlo was born in Poland in a small village called Raclawice and immigrated to the United States at age of 17. He finished his last year of high school, at Bridgman High School, in Bridgman, Michigan, graduating with class honors. In 1997, he enrolled at a local community college, The Lake Michigan College (LMC), Benton Harbor, MI, in a pre-engineering program. While at LMC, he also worked as a laboratory technician for a small scientific supply company, Alpha Resources Inc., in Stevensville, Michigan. This experience lasted for 2 years and it was pivotal in his choice of pursuing a chemical engineering degree.
In 1999 Paul transferred to the University of Michigan into the chemical engineering program. He completed his bachelors’ degree in April of 2002, graduating summa cum laude with several distinctions. Most importantly, while at Michigan, he found himself working on research in organo-metallic chemistry for three years in the group of Professor Ofer Blum. This experience instilled in him a love for scientific research and pushed him to pursue graduate education. In the winter of 2004, he returned to Michigan to pursue a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering in the area of nanocomposites in Professor Nicholas A. Kotov’s group.
During his PhD work, Paul developed a biomimetic, transparent plastic nanocomposite with strength and stiffness of steel as well as methodology for preparation of hierarchically structured, high-toughness materials. His work on “ultra-strong composites” has received exceptional interest from media and industry and awarded Paul with a number of prizes and recognitions. Paul’s work was selected as one of the top 10 discoveries of 2007 by Wired magazine. He was awarded the Top Graduate Prize in the 2008 Collegiate Inventors Competition and 2nd Place in an international thesis competition: the 2009 Quadrant Award.
After completing his PhD in August of 2008, Paul joined Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanoscale Materials as a Willard Frank Libby Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. There he continues his work into nanostructured materials in the area of self-assembled, multi-component lattices and supracrystals with special emphasis on understanding their collective optical, magnetic, and electronic properties. With the completion of his postdoctoral appointment, Paul plans to pursue a faculty position and continue his research into nanostructured materials.
2009, Hertz Thesis Prize, Fannie & John Hertz Foundation