By Jenny Wells-Hosley
Gill Eminent Professor of Chemical Engineering J. Zach Hilt has been named one of the University of Kentucky’s 16 University Research Professors for the 2019-2020 academic year.
The purpose of the University Research Professorship program is to recognize and publicize research accomplishments of scholars across the full range of disciplines at UK. The award amount is $10,000 for one year, to be used to further the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of the awardee.
The University Research Professors Program recognizes excellence across the full spectrum of research, scholarship and creative endeavors within each college that nominates a faculty member. College leadership developed criteria for excellence in research and scholarly activity within their area of expertise and then nominated faculty who excelled at these criteria.
Since arriving at UK in 2004, Hilt has established a thriving and highly-active research program oriented towards the rational design and development of innovative polymer, nanoparticle, and nanocomposite materials with applications in controlled drug delivery, environmental treatment, and beyond. A highly valued and energetic collaborator, Hilt has forged substantive interactions with faculty in biomedical engineering, chemistry, medicine and pharmaceutical sciences, and he has played a leading role in a number of multi-investigator interdisciplinary research efforts, including the NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in the area of Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices, the NIH-funded UK Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC), and the previously NIH-funded UK Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center (UK CNTC).
He received the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2013 and Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service in 2016. He was also honored with the 2013 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award from the Office of Undergraduate Research, and he has received the Outstanding Chemical Engineering Teacher Award four times. In 2016, he was elected a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He has graduated nine Ph.D. students as primary advisor and seven as a co-advisor, and as one of the leading advocates for undergraduate research in the college, he has also had more than one hundred undergraduates complete research projects in his laboratory. Hilt’s interdisciplinary research program has yielded more than 95 papers and has been cited more than 5,000 times. He also has translational activities with Bluegrass Advanced Materials, LLC, which is a start-up company that he co-founded with chemical engineering professor Tom Dziubla.