Month: April 2024

Benjamin Hsiao Returns to UConn as Polymer Program Distinguished Alumni

Drs. Kelly Burke and Jeffrey McCutcheon presents Dr. Benjamin Hsaio with IMS Polymer Program Distinguished Alumni Award.
Drs. Kelly Burke (left) and Jeffrey McCutcheon (right) present Dr. Benjamin Hsaio (center) with IMS Polymer Program Distinguished Alumni Award.

Having earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University, Benjamin S. Hsiao arrived at the University of Connecticut in 1982 in pursuit of his Ph.D.  Under the guidance of Professors Ed Samulski and Montgomery Shaw, Hsiao completed his Materials Science Ph.D. in 1987.  He has since built a exceptional reputation and stellar career which the IMS Polymer Program recognized by naming him a Distinguished Alumni. On April 24, 2024, Dr. Hsaio returned to Storrs to deliver a presentation for the program’s Distinguished Alumni Seminar.

Dr. Hsaio completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Massachusetts with a dual focus on chemistry as well as polymer science and engineering.  He spent eight years refining his research skills with DuPont before returning to academia as an assistant professor of chemistry at Stony Brook University where his accomplishments include 470 published papers, 40 patents, and the mentorship of 37 doctoral students. Stony Brook University recognized him with the prestigious title, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Additional accomplishments include serving as the Co-founding Director of the Innovative Global Energy Solutions Center and the Director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Integrated Electric Energy Systems at Stony Brook University. A complete biography can be found at:

Dr. Benjamin Hsaio makes his presentation during the IMS Polymer Program Distinguished Alumni Seminar
Dr. Benjamin Hsaio makes his presentation during the IMS Polymer Program Distinguished Alumni Seminar

Dr. Hsiao’s distinguished alumni presentation, From Nanocellulose Technologies to New Circular Solutions for Agriculture, explained his innovative approach to repurposing agricultural waste for the creation of polymer products, .

The reunion of Dr. Hsiao with Prof. Robert Weiss and co-advisor Prof. Montgomery Shaw was joyous and the entire department was eager to meet the esteemed alumni.

Collaborative Research to Develop Filament-Based Hydrogels is Cover for JACS

Yao Lin JACS cover imageIn a collaborative effort, researchers from the University of Connecticut (led by Profs. Yao Lin, VJ Kumar and Xudong Yao) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (led by Prof. Jianjun Cheng) have made an advance in the rational design of synthetic polypeptides to develop filament-based hydrogels. The work, conceptualized and realized by the graduate students Tianjian Yang (UConn) and Tianrui Xue (UIUC), has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) and featured as the cover of the March 6 issue.

Building on the recent advancement of autoaccelerated ring-opening polymerization of amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides (NCAs), this study strategically explores a series of random copolymers comprising multiple amino acids, aiming to elucidate the core principles governing gelation pathways of these purpose-designed copolypeptides. The team found that the selection of amino acids steered both the morphology of fibril superstructures and their assembly kinetics, subsequently determining their potential to form sample-spanning networks. Importantly, the viscoelastic properties of the resulting supramolecular hydrogels can be tailored according to the specific copolypeptide composition through modulations in filament densities and lengths. The findings enhance our understanding of directed self-assembly in high molecular weight synthetic copolypeptides, offering valuable insights for the development of synthetic fibrous networks and biomimetic supramolecular materials with custom-designed properties.

The research was supported by NSF grants awarded to Yao Lin at UConn (DMR 1809497 and 2210590) and Jianjun Cheng at UIUC (CHE 1905097).


Jiuzhou Zhao Completes Ph.D. in Polymer Science

Jiuzhou Zhao
Jiuzhou Zhao

After completing his Master’s degree at Akron University, Jiuzhou joined the UConn Polymer Ph.D. Program. Under the advisement of Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, he explored the world of polymer coatings, leading to his dissertation: “Layer-by-layer Assembled Polamide for Endogenous Redox-Active Interference Molecules Rejection”.

Jiuzhou returned home in China to begin a research and development position in the petroleum industry.

Congratulations Jiuzhao!