Steven Cramer, the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has received a 2016 American Chemical Society (ACS) award in Separations Science and Technology. Cramer is recognized “for contributions to a molecular-level understanding, adsorption isotherm formalisms, and the development and application of chromatographic bioprocesses for the purification of biopharmaceuticals.”
The ACS awards program is designed to encourage the advancement of chemistry in all its branches, to support research in chemical science and industry, and to promote the careers of chemists. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information.
“His original paper on the steric mass action model for ion exchange is one of the most influential papers in the field and represented a turning point in the industry where accurate models could then be employed to develop, optimize, and control large-scale ion exchange protein purification processes,” said Robin D. Rogers, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals at McGill University.
“The creative process of solving a research problem or coming up with a new research idea is similar to the process of jazz improvisation or writing a musical piece,” Cramer said about what inspires him. “In both, you need to input sufficient information and then make room for the ideas to spring up from the intuition or subconscious mind. For me, this can occur during a walk in nature, playing music, exercising, dreaming, or having an animated discussion with my students or colleagues.”
Cramer, a member of the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, is a recognized global leader in chromatographic bioprocessing. His research focuses on developing new methods and technologies to separate and purify biological compounds, both of which are major challenges facing drug discovery. This is particularly true of drugs that include proteins, which are notoriously difficult to separate from potentially harmful variants and impurities.
Cramer’s work is an example of The New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer, the foundation of which is the recognition that global challenges and opportunities are so great that they cannot be addressed by the most talented person working alone. The New Polytechnic enables collaborations between talented people across disciplines, sectors, and global regions, in order to address the complex problems of the world.
Cramer joined the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 1986 and in 1990 was named the Isermann Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. He became a full professor in 1995, and in 2007 was named the William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering.