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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Peter Cummings, a Distinguished Scientist at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has earned a top national award for chemical engineering research.

Cummings has been selected to receive the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ 1998 Alpha Chi Sigma Award.

Dr. John Prados, a UT-Knoxville professor of chemical engineering and former UT administrator, nominated Cummings for the institute’s premiere research award.

”Peter’s contributions have been truly remarkable –broad, deep, and of enduring significance,” Prados said.

Cummings uses computer-based modeling to understand the shape and chemical composition of molecules. He also studies the way molecules interact to affect the performance of gases, liquids or solids.

His interests include trying to determine why some liquids make better lubricants than others, how very-high-temperature water can dissolve and help destroy toxic compounds, and how protein structures can be determined just by knowing their constituents.

Cummings also is recognized for using visualization techniques to depict on video such processes as the flow of lubricant molecules between two moving surfaces and the behavior of water molecules at high temperatures.

The award, which comes with a plaque and $5,000, will be presented to Cummings at the institute’s honors luncheon Nov. 16 in Miami Beach.

Prior to joining the UT-ORNL Distinguished Scientist program in 1994, Cummings was on the faculty of the University of Virginia. A native of Australia, he studied at the University of New Castle and the University of Melbourne.