Dr. Whitney Blocher McTigue received her PhD from UMass in 2020 from Prof. Sarah Perry’s lab. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher under Prof. Charles E. Sing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is the recipient for the Department’s inaugural (for year 2020) Ph.D. Best Dissertation Award. Whitney’s thesis, titled “Encapsulation and Stabilization of Biomacromolecules,” focused on using oppositely charged polyelectrolytes as a means of sequestering and thermally stabilizing biomacromolecules such as proteins, viruses, and enzymes. She used complex coacervates, a liquid-liquid phase separation phenomenon that utilizes electrostatics via oppositely charged polymers, to encapsulate various biological cargo and tested the stability of these complexes at varying temperatures. Whitney generated ground rules to help determine parameters that would best encapsulate biomacromolecules and reduce the number of experiments required for optimal results. Her work is a steppingstone toward temperature stable vaccines and other therapeutics. The award consists of a commemorative plaque, an honorarium, and an invitation to give a Chemical Engineering Departmental Seminar within two years of the award announcement.