The Polymer Program and the UConn Society of Plastics Engineers student chapter co-sponsored the SPE CT section February meeting on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015. Three officers from the SPE CT section and four members of the SPE national office attended the meeting.
The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), an international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and education for all plastics professions, organizes a monthly meeting to discuss recent developments within the organization. The UConn SPE chapter was selected to host the February meeting.
The meeting opened with a presentation by Mr. Russell Broome, the SPE Managing Director, entitled, “From a College Student to a Young Professional to an Industry Veteran” offering valuable advice to current students interested in a career in industry. Following the presentation a number of exciting announcements were made. First, the SPE Connecticut Section announced their plans to sponsor a student to attend the ANTEC and NPE national conference in Orlando, Florida, March 23rd through 25th. The SPE headquarters also expressed their intentions to partner with industry to sponsor students, eliminating the student membership fee. The current trial phase has seen student membership double over the past 6 months. Additionally, Russell Broome and SPE headquarters revealed their new networking and social media tool called the Chain. Inspired by LinkedIn, the Chain is an online forum divided into several communities including technical and social topics, and career connections with the goal to connect plastic professionals with an easy to navigate interface.
Around 40 students attended the meeting, interested in the opportunity to learn about new developments in the polymer and plastics industry in Connecticut and network with industry professionals on the SPE national board.
In addition to hosting the SPE February meeting the UConn student chapter has also organized various events and activities including tours of local plants in the industry and outreach programs increasing education in polymers from elementary school through high school. During the Polymer Program Seminar Series, SPE members volunteer by supervising equipment and setting up refreshments. Additionally, the organization arranges the SPE Student Seminar Series that invites field leaders, senior students and postdoctoral fellows from the Southern New England area to present on polymer related topics.
For more information on becoming a student member please contact the UConn SPE student president, Garrett Kraft.
Rajeswari M. Kasi has been appointed Program Director of the IMS Polymer Program, succeeding Douglas Adamson who served in the position from 2011 to now.
Prof. Kasi is Associate Professor of Chemistry with an appointment in IMS. She was a 2008 recipient of the NSF CAREER award and has published extensively in journals including the Journal of Physical Chemistry, the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The Polymer Program of the Institute of Materials Science was recently mentioned in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society, for research concerning graphene foam materials. The article highlights the work of polymer chemist Dr. Douglas H. Adamson (IMS/CHEM), polymer physicist Dr. Andrey Dobrynin (IMS/PHYS), and graduate student Steven J Woltornist (IMS/CHEM), and their revolutionary approach to creating new materials based on the strong attraction of pristine (not oxidized) graphene to high-energy oil and water interfaces. In the past, graphene’s applications have been severely limited due to its insolubility in water and other common organic solvents. To fix this problem, researchers had either relied on chemically altered graphene, which is expensive and ultimately has inferior properties, or extensive mechanical treatments that led to tearing the graphene sheets apart. Instead of viewing graphene’s insolubility as a limitation, the team exploited it by using it to stabilize the high-energy interfaces found in water in oil emulsions. Overlapping pristine graphene sheets at the water/oil interface lead to a local thermodynamic minimum, resulting in stable water in oil emulsions with the water droplets lined with thin layers of graphene. Using a monomer with dissolved initiator as the oil phase, leads to the formation of polymer in the continuous phase, after gentle heating. When the water is removed, a rigid foam remains, which is strong, conductive, and light-weight. These foams and can be used as building materials, ultracapacitor electrodes, conductive catalyst supports, and filters.
Dr. Douglas Adamson joined UConn in August 2008 as an Associate Professor in the Polymer Program and received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1991. His research focuses on polymer synthesis for use in self-assembly as well as using graphene and other two-dimensional sheet like materials for composites.
Dr. Andrey Dobrynin joined UConn in 2001, earned his Ph.D. from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1991 and is a professor in the Polymer Program. His research focuses on computational approaches to polymeric materials and polymer based nanocomposites.
Steven J Woltornist joined UConn in January 2012 as a teaching assistant for general chemistry, while pursuing a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry. In May 2013, he joined the Adamson research group. His research specializes in the discovery and development of graphene-based materials.