April Montoya Vaverka presenting annual Don Fox Lecture on Friday

KEARNEY – The UNK Department of Chemistry will host the Don Fox Memorial Lecture on Friday (Oct. 8) in Copeland Hall Room 131. The event includes a reception at 2:30 p.m. followed by the seminar at 2:45 p.m.

This year’s Don Fox Lecturer is April Montoya Vaverka, who will present “Materials Development: Why Defining the Problem is the Most Important Part.”

Vaverka earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNK in 2002 before attending the University of California, Davis to study the electronic structure of semiconductor materials both nucleated in glass and in ultra-high vacuum. She was awarded an NSF NEAT-IGERT fellowship and worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory during her doctoral program. She earned her Ph.D. in materials science engineering from UC Davis in 2008 with a thesis titled “Characterization of the Electronic Structure of Silicon Nanoparticles Using X-ray Absorption and Emission.”

After receiving her Ph.D., she joined Intel Corporation as a process engineer for 2 1/2 years, working in the lithography department developing processes for next-generation photoresist lithography for microchips. In 2011, she took a position as a lead scientist at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, where she has worked for the last 10 years in the nonwovens department developing materials for personal care and Kimberly-Clark Professional products.

Vaverka has held various positions from support of commercial materials to front-end process development for emerging nonwovens technology. She has worked on various nonwovens materials with technologies varying from wettability surfactants to true process engineering and starting of new machines for commercial production. She is currently a senior materials scientist developing next-generation materials for N95 respirators, filtration, scientific apparel and wipes.

She is active in Women’s Inclusion Network, a mentor in the Georgia Tech Materials science department, treasurer of her son’s soccer club and a community advocate for The Drake House, a local crisis housing charity for homeless, single mothers. She lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

In fall 1980, as part of the Kearney State College Diamond Jubilee Celebration, the Department of Chemistry organized a symposium to recognize Don Fox for his service to KSC. This led to the establishment of the annual Don Fox Lectureship, where a distinguished chemistry graduate is invited back to visit during homecoming week. The honoree attends an awards banquet and presents a public lecture on campus.