Physicist Connie Roth elected as fellow of American Physical Society

By April Hunt | Emory Report | Oct. 15, 2019

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Physicist Connie Roth has been elected as a 2019 American Physical Society Fellow. Only eight APS Fellowships have previously been awarded to Emory faculty, and Roth is the first female recipient for Emory.

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Emory physicist Connie Roth, who studies the physical and mechanical properties of polymer glasses, is among a select group of scientists elected as a 2019 American Physical Society (APS) Fellow.

The APS honors no more than half of a percent of its members with the award each year. Roth, associate professor of physics in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, is among 168 winners this year, specifically recognized for her “exceptional contributions” to the understanding of glass transition and aging phenomena in polymer films and blends.

Only eight APS Fellowships have previously been awarded to Emory faculty, and Roth is the first female recipient for Emory.

“This is indeed a remarkable achievement and well-deserved recognition, especially at such a relatively early stage of her career,” says Stefan Boettcher, chair of Emory’s physics department, who was named an APS Fellow in 2018. “It certainly bodes well for her future, and the department could not be more proud of her.” 

Roth’s research lab, which includes both undergraduate and graduate students, uses techniques such as fluorescence and ellipsometry in a bid to understand the effects of forces, interfaces and other influences on polymer properties.

Understanding the underlying structures of polymers will allow them to be used with more specificity in industries that vary from common consumer goods to advanced technological applications for energy sustainability. 

“I’m very excited by the award, and that senior members of my field chose to nominate me,” Roth says. “My joy of studying polymers comes from both uncovering their fundamental scientific mysteries, as well as their pervasive use in nearly everything around us.”

Roth was nominated through the APS Division of Polymer Physics. She also serves as the division’s program chair for the upcoming 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver.

Becoming a 2019 APS Fellow is the second major award for Roth this year. She won the North American Thermal Analysis Society’s second highest award, the NATAS Fellows Award, this summer, for her significant technical accomplishment and outstanding scholarship in the field of thermal analysis. 

As part of that honor, she presented a plenary during the annual NATAS conference in Rhode Island in August. 

In 2012, Roth also was honored by the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, winning a five-year grant in support of the integration of her teaching and research.

In addition, she was the 2009 inaugural lecture exchange recipient for the American Physical Society’s Division of Polymer Physics with the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics, Polymer Physics Group. To strengthen ties between the American and UK organizations, every two years each selects a person to present an invited lecture to the other group.