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Assistant Professor Lorraine Leon has been named a recipient of the 2022 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award. This honor is given to early career faculty in recognition for their outstanding research, experience and leadership in STEM.

All recipients are nominated by 3M researchers and receive a discretionary award of $15,000 per year, for up to three years, to support their research. Leon says it feels amazing to be among this year’s recipients.

I’ve always thought that 3M was a very innovative company. In my field, it is known as a great place to work,” Leon says. “For them to have selected me for this award makes me feel that my research is valued beyond academia.”

Leon leads the Biomolecular Engineering Lab, where she and her team research and develop dynamic biomaterials. The 3M funding will support the development of soft materials that can be programmed, via their peptide sequence, to form different structures of different sizes, and can respond to different stimuli.

The funding will also support Leon’s outreach efforts, which include the bilingual summer camp sponsored by the National Science Foundation, BioDrops: Biomateriales Liquidos, that she launched this past month in partnership with the Buenaventura Lakes Library in Osceola County. The program is designed to teach children ages 10 to 13 about biomaterials phase separation, a phenomenon they may find in everyday items such as salad dressing, slime and lava lamps. The goal is to increase Hispanic students’ interest in STEM-related careers.