The Ohio State University Professor and Ohio Research Scholar of Bioemergent Materials Katrina Cornish received the 2024 Charles Goodyear Medal on Thursday afternoon. Cornish holds a split appointment between the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE) and the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science (HCS).
The Charles Goodyear Medal is the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society's highest honor. Established in 1941, the award recognizes individuals for outstanding invention, innovation, or development that has resulted in a significant change or contribution to the nature of the rubber industry.
Cornish's Lab Group is currently working to develop a domestic natural rubber crop in Ohio and for the U.S., especially as natural rubber security is becoming a major problem for the United States.
"If the tropical rubber tree crop fails (it is grown as genetically identical clones) the global economy will be devastated. If we lose our access to tropical rubber before we have our own production, the U.S. economy and its defense fail," said Cornish "The U.S. is reactive, not proactive but, in this case, we must be proactive because the consequences of no natural rubber are unacceptable."
Cornish also serves as the Program Director of PENRA, 'The Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber,' which focuses on the creation of the science, technology, and private partnerships needed to support the introduction and scale-up of natural rubber alternatives. Current research focuses on the improvement of germplasm, production methods, and processing techniques to increase the yield of natural rubber from the rubber dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz), utilization of allergen-free latex from guayule (Parthenium argentatum), and evaluation of the natural rubber potential of other plants.
"There isn’t just one thing [that led to this award]. It is a combination of research into domestic alternatives combined with inspiring others to commercially develop it in different countries," said Cornish. "However, specifics include allergy-safe latex and products, novel processes, green alternatives to petroleum products used by the rubber industry, the first understanding of the regulation of biosynthetic rate and polymer molecular weight."
Cornish will accept her award and be celebrated at a banquet on May 1, 2024, during the Rubber Division, ACS Spring Technical Meeting in Columbus, OH. Congratulations to Dr. Katrina Cornish on this incredible achievement! Visit the Cornish Lab and PENRA websites to learn more about her work at The Ohio State University.