Balazs Lauded for Leading the Way for Women in Math, Science

Issue Date: 
January 22, 2007

In her lab in Pitt’s School of Engineering, Anna C. Balazs creates more than computer and mathematical models of molecular interaction—she is laying a path for young women with an eye for science and math.

The Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Robert Von der Luft Professor in the University’s chemical and petroleum engineering department, Balazs has won a Women in the Material World award from the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) of Southwest Pennsylvania for her work in determining how building and manufacturing materials interact at the molecular level. The WGF honored 25 women who work with material products—including investors, doctors, and architects—during a gala at the Carnegie Museum of Art last month.

Balazs’ research involves laying out the molecular properties of materials to save other people the time and expense of finding out whether certain material blends are soft, hard, or even a good idea to mix.

“Materials are pretty messy,” Balazs explained. “Instead of having a thousand pots and mixing everything, it’s better to do theoretical calculations and provide some guidelines, to save on the trial-and-error efforts.”

The WGF recognized Balazs not only for the merit of her research, but also for adding yet another example of the careers young women and girls can pursue through math and science, according to the WGF. This was the second year the foundation presented the award.

Balazs, who earned her Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said she was “extremely honored” by the recognition.