A textiles professor at N.C. State University is one of two winners of the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty honor given by the UNC system’s Board of Governors.
Behnam Pourdeyhimi, a professor and associate dean in NCSU’s College of Textiles, has pioneered the field of nonwoven fabrics. His technological advances led to water filtration systems, protective clothing for the military, safer vehicles and new drug delivery methods.
He founded what would become the Nonwovens Institute on Centennial Campus, which joins academics and industry professionals to develop new products. It has 68 member companies and a $10 million annual budget.
Pourdeyhimi said the production of nonwovens contribute $5 billion to the state’s economy. He cited Swiffer, a $2.2 billion business that makes duster mops in Benson.
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The other recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award is Pinku Mukherjee, a professor of cancer research at UNC Charlotte. She has spent 25 years studying breast and pancreatic cancers and has created new therapies and better early detection methods. In 2011, she founded a spinoff company called OncoTab, built around identifying novel markers for cancer to improve detection.
The award is the university system’s top honor for faculty. It carries a $20,000 cash prize.