James McGrath, the Ethyl professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, has won the Herman F. Mark Award in Polymer Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. McGrath has been co-director of the Polymer Materials and Interface Lab (PMIL) at Virginia Tech since 1978 and director of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center on High Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites since 1989. His colleagues consider him to be "a world-class polymer chemist." McGrath holds more than 30 patents and has written six books, 50 book chapters, and more than 250 articles in scientific journals. He received the university's Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 1993.
McGrath went to Virginia Tech in 1975 from Union Carbide Corp., where he as a research scientist and group leader. By 1979, he was a full professor, and in 1986 he received the Ethyl Chaired Professorship in chemistry.
His research has been directed toward the synthesis and characterization of high-performance matrix polymers and structural adhesives, new composite matrix and adhesive polymers for possible use in aerospace, new high-temperature polymer dielectrics for computer development, and fire-resistant polymers.
Since becoming director of the NSF center, McGrath's research has especially focused on structural adhesives and new composite matrix polymers-strong, light-weight materials for aerospace and the high-speed civil-transport airplane, for example.