NREL Senior Scientist Mou Paul Receives Two Prestigious Chemistry Awards

April 7, 2022 | By Susannah Shoemaker | Contact media relations

A woman smiling.
NREL Senior Scientist Mou Paul. Photo by Mou Paul, NREL

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Senior Scientist Mou Paul has been selected as the recipient of two prestigious awards—the 2021 Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (I&EC) Division Fellow Award and the 2021 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Industrial Progress Award.

The Division Fellow is awarded for innovative contributions to applied chemistry and chemical engineering. The Industrial Progress Award recognizes early- to mid-career individuals for outstanding contributions to industrial practice in chemical engineering and is one of AIChE's highest honors.

"I feel both humbled and overjoyed," Paul said. "I'm passionate about my work, and it's great to see it get recognized. It's also very motivational to be recognized as a woman in chemistry, and my hope is that awards like these will motivate other women in the field as well."

Prior to joining NREL last August, Paul spent 13 years at the Dow Chemical Company, where she worked on the fundamental chemistry and applications of functional polymers and membranes. Before joining Dow, Paul received her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech under the direction of Judy Riffle and James McGrath. Her work is far reaching, ranging from synthesizing polymers for packaging, transportation, and infrastructure to developing more efficient water purification membranes and fuel cell membranes.

Paul's contributions in these areas have resulted in over 40 articles, presentations, and conference proceedings—including a recent paper in Science—and over 50 granted global patents. In 2008, she received the ACS Glenn Award for her graduate work on fuel cell membranes. In 2020, she received the Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Women Chemists Committee, which recognizes exceptional female scientists in all areas of chemistry.

"Mou's scientific achievements are exceptional, and her technical competencies are world class," said Bryan Pivovar, group manager in the Chemistry and Nanosciences Center at NREL. "It's often difficult to be recognized within the industrial establishment, so this speaks even more highly of Mou."

Although Paul is new to NREL, she has already made a positive impact on her colleagues and the laboratory—which is not surprising, given the emphasis she places on collaboration.

"During my career, I've learned the importance of collaboration; it always rewards you when you reach out and connect and collaborate with other people," Paul said. "I'm also a big advocate of diversity and inclusion. When teams are very inclusive and diverse, that can definitely show up in the team's progress and results later on."

This focus on collaboration and inclusion is another reason Paul's colleagues are excited to have her at NREL.

"Mou is a wonderful colleague and collaborator," Pivovar said. "It's not common to get somebody like Mou from industry to a national lab, but it's a key aspect of leveraging industrial knowledge back into the national lab system. We were lucky to convince Mou that she would be a great addition to our team, and I'm excited to see what her future at NREL holds."