Polymer Program Seminar: Engineering Bioinspired Materials for Human Health Applications

Dr. Jessica D. Schiffman
Dr. Jessica D. Schiffman

Friday, November 16, 2018
11:10 a.m., IMS Room 20
Dr. Jessica D. Schiffman, Associate Professor, UMass Amherst

Engineering Bioinspired Materials for Human Health Applications

By synthesizing bioinspired and “greener” materials, we can reduce the spread of microbial resistant genes and the use of toxic solvents in applications, such as wound healing scaffolds and water purification membranes, respectively. In this presentation, I will discuss a story from each of my lab’s two synergistic research thrusts. First, I will discuss the effect that the fundamental properties of polymer coatings (i.e., molecular architecture, stiffness, and thickness) have on the surface-associated transport of bacteria and on the adhesion of bacteria under quiescent conditions. By decoupling the effects of molecular architecture, stiffness, and thickness from coating chemistry, we have unlocked specific structure-property relationships that can be tailored to control the initial stage of bacterial adhesion. As an example of our work on green chemistry, I will highlight our fibers that form using only water and salt. Polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) form due to the electrostatic complexation between oppositely-charged polymers. We have recently demonstrated that by exploiting the salt-driven plasticization of PECs, we can enable the electrospinning of ultra-stable solid fibers using an aqueous solution containing a pair of strong polyelectrolytes and salt. Electrospun PEC fibers are stable over a wide range of pH values, ionic strength conditions, and many organic solvents. The overall goal of this talk is to illustrate our recent findings and how these results can guide the green engineering of multifunctional antifouling materials.