Eugenia Kumacheva was born in Odessa, Soviet Union. She received her undergraduate degree (cum laude) from the Technical University in Saint Petersburg. She spent several years in industry, and in 1981, started her Ph.D. research in the physical chemistry of polymers at the Russian Academy of Science. Her doctoral thesis focused on new types of composite organic coatings. In 1985, she became a research associate in the Department of Chemistry at Moscow State University.
In 1991-1994, Eugenia conducted postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, supported by a Minerva Foundation Fellowship. During this time, she made two important scientific discoveries. She demonstrated confinement-induced liquid-to-solid transitions in thin liquid films. This work (reported in Science) shed light on the behaviour of thin layers of lubricants, crystallization of gases in narrow pores, and the microfluidity of biological membranes. The second discovery opened a new mechanism of lubrication between surfaces coated with end-grafted polymer molecules. The results of this work (published in Nature) explained the origin of the remarkable lubrication in human joints.
Eugenia joined the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in 1996, and is currently Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials (Tier 1). Eugenia has an impressive publication record, with 182 peer-reviewed publications, 18 patent applications filed, 9 book chapters, one book authored and one book edited. She has given more than 200 invited lectures, including international plenary and keynote lectures, public lectures on Parliament Hill (Canada), at the Royal Canada Institute, the French Academy of Science, and elsewhere, as well as outreach lectures in high schools and women’s universities in Japan.
More than 120 students and postdoctoral fellows have studied in her laboratory, in addition to numerous visiting students and professors from around the world. Her former students hold academic positions in Canada, USA, France, South Korea and China, and many have taken positions in industry and founded successful start-up companies.
Among her awards are the Killam Fellowship, the Chemical Institute of Canada Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award, the Clara Benson Award (CIC), the Schlumberger Scholarship (UK), the International Chorafas Foundation Award in Physics and Engineering, the Humboldt Research Award (Germany), and the 2009 L’Oreal-UNESCO Award For Women in Science. In 2012, she was named Inventor of the Year (University of Toronto). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She has held Visiting Professorships in the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard, Moscow State University, Universitè Louis Pasteur and University of Bayreuth. Professor Kumacheva’s public service includes her work with the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Division (NSERC Canada), Vanier-Banting Selection Board (NSERC Canada), National Science Foundation review panels for the USA, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. She is an editor or a member of advisory boards for Polymer Bulletin, Soft Matter and J. Polymer Colloid Science, and serves on numerous international scientific advisory boards