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Awards and Honors

Ormond wins 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

In honor of his professional achievements, life-changing research and alignment with the college's core values, Bryan Ormond was named a recipient of the Wilson College of Textiles 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Bryan Ormond

One of Bryan Ormond’s favorite topics to discuss is his students and the life-changing research they are conducting. Far too often, Ormond ’07, ’12 downplays his own outstanding accomplishments, but he completely lights up when he sees his students succeed. 

As a two-time graduate of the Wilson College of Textiles who is now an assistant professor of textile engineering, chemistry and science (TECS), Ormond relates to his students through their shared experiences.

“My closeness to the program has allowed me to connect with the undergraduate students and graduate students to help them find their own passions and forge their own paths as the next generation of our evolving textile industry,” he says. “I have had the opportunity to follow my passions for teaching and research at the college that has truly become my home.” 

Ormond’s commitment to instill knowledge has earned him multiple teaching honors, including the Outstanding Teacher Award in 2021, presented by the NC State Alumni Association, and induction into the Academy of Outstanding Teachers the same year.

Assistant Professor Bryan Ormond was all smiles at the 2024 International Firefighter Cancer Symposium. His graduate student advisees, Jingian Lu (left) and Melissa Armistead (right), both won awards during the research poster competition.

When combined with his life changing research expertise that focuses on the health and safety of firefighters and other first responders, it’s clear that Ormond is a trailblazer and making a significant difference in the lives of his students, his community and society at large.  

This year, in recognition of Ormond’s professional achievements, groundbreaking research and alignment with the college’s core values, he was named a recipient of the college’s 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award. 

Established by the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council (DYALC) in 2021, the Distinguished Young Alumni Awards program recognizes graduates under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the textile industry and their communities. The DYALC works to promote the Wilson College of Textiles and the college’s fundraising arm, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, and foster engagement among young alumni. 

“Twenty years ago, I became a part of a Wolfpack that, over the years, has challenged me to aim higher, push further, think deeper and achieve heights that I never thought were possible,” Ormond says. “I’m honored to be recognized in this way for my research and commitment to ensuring that every student has a great experience and no one is left out.” 

From student dreams to faculty leadership

Ormond’s journey at NC State began when he toured the university as a high school student alongside a group of his classmates. 

As he spent the day exploring campus, Ormond felt a spark that wouldn’t go away. When it came time for him to apply to colleges, he applied to a single school: the Wilson College of Textiles. As the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year institution, this decision was an especially important one.

Being admitted into the college gave Ormond the opportunity to build his leadership skills through his involvement with the Phi Psi National Textile Fraternity, Kappa Tau Beta Leadership Fraternity, and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in polymer and color chemistry in 2007, Ormond went on to earn a Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science

“I knew the Wilson College was where I belonged and that there was so much more to learn about my research interests. My decision to attend graduate school here was easy.” 

— Bryan Ormond ’07, ’12

Even though he excelled in the classroom, Ormond struggled during the first year of his doctoral program. 

The transition to earning his Ph.D., after interning with Cotton Incorporated for three years, was tough, and Ormond felt as if he had no direction. He immediately turned to Keith Beck, the department head for TECS at the time, for advice. Professor Beck took Ormond under his wing and included him on research projects that were closely tied to textile chemistry. From there, Ormond fell in love with his work. 

As Ormond began to expand his research interests, he also started working as a graduate research assistant — and then a postdoctoral research scholar — for the Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC). As the only academic center in the nation that incorporates the capabilities to research, test and evaluate the comfort and protective performance of textile materials, garments and ensemble systems all in one location, TPACC leads the way in this dynamic area. 

“It’s one thing to learn how innovative solutions work theoretically or as a prototype, but our research team can actually see it go from the lab to the field and be used by first responders, firefighters and members of the military,” Ormond shares. “And that is what has always driven me and it still drives me to this day.”

Saving the lives of those who put their own on the frontlines

As the son of an EMT mother and a minister father, who occasionally stepped in to drive a fire truck for a local volunteer fire department, Ormond is passionate about changing, and most importantly protecting, lives. The assistant professor’s research explores performance and protective textiles, dyeing and finishing, testing and materials evaluation, and textile chemistry and comfort. 

Since 2013, Ormond has secured more than $12 million in research funding to address the many issues facing firefighters and their personal protective equipment (PPE). Most recently, his work has focused on the exposures to carcinogens that these vital servicepeople face in the field as well as within their gear. His team found that the occupational exposure of firefighters to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly called forever chemicals, could increase their risk of developing different types of cancer.

These chemicals have been detected in their heavy-duty turnout gear and the foam they use to put out fires, as well as in the air and dust at the fire scene and the firestation.

Bryan Ormond's team leads a live burning experiment
Bryan Ormond and his team led a live burn field trial as a part of their Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC) research.
Bryan Ormond in the Textile Protection and Comfort Center
Bryan Ormond in the Textile Protection and Comfort Center

“I have chosen to stand in the middle of firefighters and manufacturers on the controversial topic of PFAS in their gear so that I can listen to both sides and ensure that everyone understands that this is a complicated topic that we have to work together to solve,” he says. “I am advocating that our college should be at the forefront of leading the textile industry into a future without PFAS chemistries, so that we can help to clean up and remediate what our textile industry has contributed to in the global PFAS contamination.” 

One of Ormond’s greatest accomplishments is his idea for a turnout system for firefighters. The product made it through the production, development and testing stages, and was then patented and commercialized. Seeing his PPE gear worn by members of his local Apex Fire Department is still mind-blowing for Ormond. 

“Every semester, I tell my students that we have to remind ourselves of everything we’re accomplishing. Seeing the local fire department, which would respond if my house was on fire, wearing that gear. I never thought that I would have any of that. That’s one of the really cool full-circle moments.”

— Bryan Ormond ’07, ’12

Ormond credits the college for empowering him to make such invaluable contributions. 

“Every part of my life has been impacted by this college and the textile industry,” Ormond emphasizes. “In the PPE sector of the textile industry, there are so many individuals who have ties to the Wilson College of Textiles that it has allowed me to network and build relationships that have resulted in incredible research partnerships.”

Proud to be Mace’s biggest fan

In addition to his professional and research accomplishments, Ormond’s passion for helping others extends to educating, advocating and celebrating in honor of those living with Down syndrome. 

“Two-and-a-half years ago, my life changed,” he explains. “When my son Mace was born, I had no idea what the future would hold. However, I quickly learned that having a child with Down syndrome isn’t always scary or something to constantly worry about. I have been blessed to be one of the lucky few fathers who get to experience life through the eyes of a child who doesn’t just survive with Down syndrome, he is living and thriving every day.” 

Each year, Bryan Ormond and his family lead a team for the annual Triangle Buddy Walk, named Mace’s Minions.

The support that Ormond, his wife, Sasha, and his family have received from the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance has been remarkable. 

To pay that support forward, his family raises funds for the organization in honor of Mace and his enthusiasm for life. Their team’s name for the annual Triangle Buddy Walk is Mace’s Minions. The funding they raise provides resources and support for individuals living with Down syndrome and their families — throughout the individuals’ entire lives. 

“Seeing my son’s unbridled happiness when he finally was able to stand up on his own and take his first steps or realizing that he had figured out how to get out of his crib in the morning on his own constantly reminds me that he’s working on his timeline, and he won’t be held back by anyone’s limitations,” he reflects. “Mace inspires me every single day.”

This post was originally published in Wilson College of Textiles News.