Sandia Labs News Releases

American Chemical Society honors Sandia Labs scientist

Prolific researcher first to garner award

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories materials scientist Dorina Sava Gallis has been honored by the American Chemical Society with a 2024 Women Chemists Committee Rising Star Award, recognizing her excellence in the scientific enterprise demonstrating outstanding promise for contributions to her field.

ACS award 1

Sandia National Laboratories materials scientist Dorina Sava Gallis was recently recognized by the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee with a Rising Star Award. (Photo by Craig Fritz) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

In her 14 years at Sandia, Sava Gallis has accumulated more than a dozen U.S. patents, authored or co-authored more than 60 technical publications and is recognized as a world expert in nanoporous materials, particularly in metal-organic frameworks.

Generating big ideas with the smallest of particles, Sava Gallis has found successful materials solutions in various applications, including environmental remediation, gas storage and separations, energy storage, degradation of toxic chemicals, viral detec­tion, advanced therapeutic countermea­sures and photoluminescent materials for solid-state lighting, bioimaging and anticounterfeiting.

“I’m fortunate to be involved in a lot of interesting work with MOFs — for example, bridging biology with material science,” she said. Last year, Sava Gallis led a team that invented a transparent material capable of marking authentic goods with a special pattern or signature visible only under certain kinds of light, effectively thwarting counterfeiters.

Among her many talents and successes, Sava Gallis particularly enjoys assembling research teams.

“I’m really passionate about building multidisciplinary teams to solve cutting-edge national security chal­lenges,” she said. “I enjoy thinking about which people I can collaborate with — material scientists, chemists, engineers, biologists, physicists, modelers — to create the best solutions for specific needs.”

Sava Gallis quickly acknowledged her colleagues and mentors who have contrib­uted to these successful projects.

She has also become adept at technology transfer and commercialization, developing comprehensive business plans and iden­tifying market pathways for her research programs.

“Much of our work has national security relevance, but it also holds significance for the broader material science community, and commercial potential,” Sava Gallis said.

Materials engineer, chemist or materials scientist?

From her earliest years, Sava Gallis was a voracious reader and found math enjoy­able.

“In my younger days, math was like a game to me,” she said. “I was self-driven, solving as many math problems as I could. They were riddles for me that I had to find the answers to.”

Her interests and skills in math eventu­ally led to a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. At that point, she faced a crossroads.

“I didn’t originally plan on earning a doctorate, especially in chemistry,” she said. “I didn’t really understand what that entailed. But a professor of mine in undergrad saw my potential and encour­aged me to pursue graduate school.”

Studying chemistry at a higher level was one of her biggest life decisions because it took her in a completely different direction.

“Graduate school was tough,” Sava Gallis said. “In science, we think very differ­ently than in engineering. In engineering, we have a macroscopic, applied view. In science, we dig down to the elemental atomic level. It’s a very different mindset.”

Sava Gallis describes herself as an engineer and a scientist. “Overall, the best descrip­tion of what I do is a materials scientist, but I have this interesting interdisciplinary training,” she said. “I now realize how important graduate school was in shaping me as a scientific researcher.”

A first for Sandia

Sava Gallis has received numerous profes­sional and academic awards throughout her meteoric career, but this one is special.

“I’m really proud of this award,” she said. “This organization and committee have been around for a long time, and this is the first time a Sandia Labs scientist has received this honor.”

In fact, the Women Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society was established in 1927 to encourage women chemists to take an active interest in society activities. The committee serves as a forum for women chemists, develops guidance for women’s issues in the field and recognizes and promotes women in the chemical sciences.

The Women Chemists Committee Rising Star Award is open to American Chemical Society members in chemistry and chem­ical engineering working in academic, industrial, government, non-profit or other employment sectors.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Luke Frank,, 505-377-5620