Kristi S. Anseth Receives AIChE’s Founders Award for 2021

ChEnected is introducing readers to the recipients of AIChE’s 2021 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards. These are AIChE’s highest honors, and all candidates are nominated by the chemical engineering community and voted upon by the members of AIChE’s volunteer-led Awards Committee. The awards acknowledge outstanding achievements across a spectrum of chemical engineering endeavors.

One of AIChE’s Board of Directors’ Awards, The Founders Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Chemical Engineering, is presented to engineers who have had a profound impact on the way chemical engineering is applied, and whose achievements have advanced the profession in any of its aspects. 

Dr. Anseth’s recognition 

The recipient of the 2021 Founders Award is Kristi S. Anseth, Distinguished Professor and Tisone Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder). Dr. Anseth is being lauded for her “seminal contributions to the application of foundational aspects of chemical engineering to the design of advanced biomaterials, hybrid medical devices, and bionanoscale-based processes.”

Anseth’s honor, along with the presentation of the other Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards, is taking place in connection with the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 7–11 in Boston, Massachusetts. A video presentation of the awards will be available for viewing the following week at a virtual version of the Annual Meeting.

More about this year’s winner

Dr. Anseth, who also serves as Associate Faculty Director of CU-Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute, has pioneered the field of biological engineering and polymers by using chemical

engineering principles to come up with the rational design of biomaterials for tissue engineering, drug delivery, and biosensing applications. She was one of the earliest researchers to contribute novel biomaterials design based on molecular engineering and chemical engineering principles. 

A pioneer in providing an understanding of how cells receive information from biomaterial microenvironments to promote tissue regeneration, she was one of the first engineers to fabricate microfluidic devices for cell culture and to functionalize biomaterials for rapid biological detection schemes. She has developed a photobiomaterial microfluidic-based cell culture platform that affords opportunities for high throughput screening assays for tissue engineering applications and biosensing, and has established two start-up companies on biomaterials and tissue engineering.

Anseth joined the faculty at Boulder after earning her BS in chemical engineering from Purdue University, her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado, and completing post-doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellow. Her research group has published more than 350 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and she has trained more than 110 graduate students and postdoctoral associates. 

She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Recently, she received the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in the Life Sciences.  

More of Anseth’s honors

Anseth is also a recipient of the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation and an appointment to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an Investigator. Among many other honors, she has also received AIChE’s Professional Progress Award and the James E. Bailey Award from AIChE’s Society for Bioengineering. 

An AIChE Fellow, former Board member, and former Chair of AIChE’s Awards Committee, Anseth has also represented the chemical engineering community by serving as the President of the Materials Research Society; on the Board of Governors for Acta Materialia, Inc; on the NIH Advisory Council for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; and as Chair of the National Academy of Engineering’s U.S. Frontiers of Engineering meetings. 

Stay in the know

In the weeks leading up to the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, ChEnected will feature the other 2021 Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients. Visit the ChEnected series regularly to meet all of this year’s honorees. Visit to see all award winners.