September 7, 2023
Zach Sherman has joined ChemE as assistant professor.
ChemE is delighted to welcome Zach Sherman as the newest faculty addition in autumn 2023. Zach comes to the department from a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas in Austin, where he worked alongside Professor Tom Truskett on the self-assembly and optical properties of functional nanoparticle materials. Prior to his fellowship, he earned his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Professor Jim Swan on the assembly and transport of colloidal dispersions in electric and magnetic fields.
Zach brings to the department his expertise in computational modeling of colloidal soft materials. His research combines elements of chemical engineering, materials science, and applied mathematics, with the goal of creating “designer” soft materials with tailored properties that can be applied across virtually any impact area, from health and medicine to clean energy to infrastructure and beyond. As part of his appointment, Zach will be building out a lab that focuses on using a unique set of computational modeling and simulation tools to investigate electromagnetic field-driven colloidal materials across the electromagnetic spectrum.
“The use of electromagnetic fields functions as this external controller that can move particles around and change the way they interact with each other. We will use computational models to predict how the particles react.”
When deciding to pursue the opportunity to join the University of Washington, Zach was drawn to UW ChemE’s history of excellence in colloidal science, and to the culture of collaboration that exists within the department and the College of Engineering. He is particularly excited about the availability of computational resources that he can leverage in his lab, including the eScience Institute and Hyak.
“As a computationalist, it's very important for me to find experimental collaborators and I am certain I will find that here at UW.”
Zach was also drawn to the investment that UW ChemE has made into diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on all levels of the department, and the commitment to continue working toward a positive and inclusive learning environment for all students that choose to pursue chemical engineering, or any STEM discipline. For most of his time as a postdoc, Zach was an outreach chair with the Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials, which is recognized as part of the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC).
“The goal was to do whatever we could to educate K-12 students and to show that science is for everyone, and anyone can become a scientist. It was great to connect with communities that did not have a lot of their own science resources. We ran STEM clubs at elementary schools in the greater Austin area, and hosted booths at larger UT events like World of Engineering Day. It was fun to be a part of.”
On the teaching side, Zach also has plans developing a new elective course for the ChemE curriculum that will introduce molecular simulations and the processes that go along with them. The course will give students the chance to step outside of the customary lab setting with lots of physical operations and challenge them instead to take a computational approach.