Polymer Program Announces 2021-2022 Awards

The IMS Polymer Program Awards committee has selected two awardees for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

Chung Hao Polymer Program Award
Chung Hao Liu (center), winner of the Samuel J. Huang Graduate Student Research Award, with Polymer Program Director Kelly Burke (left) and advisor, Dr. Mu-Ping Nieh.

Chung-Hao Liu received the Samuel J. Huang Graduate Student Research Award.  This award recognizes a graduate student for outstanding research in the field of polymer science and engineering.  Chung-Hao completed is fourth year as a polymer PhD candidate under the guidance of Prof. Mu-Ping Nieh. He has been diligent in conducting advanced nanoscience research including materials characterization and designing polymer nanostructures. His efforts have resulted in two published journal articles, one currently in review, and contributions to many more. Chung-Hao has also made many collaborating efforts with other research groups and mentored undergraduate engineering students. Outside the lab, Chung-Hao has been an Society of Polymer Engineers, Storrs Chapter, committee member for 3 years, serving as both Vice President and President. His positive attitude and strong work ethics have made contributions to Prof. Nieh’s lab and the IMS research community.

Probodha Abeykoon Receives 2022 Polymer Program Award
Probodha Abeykoon (center), winner of the Stephanie H. Shaw Fellowship Scholar Award, with Polymer Program Director Kelly Burke and advisor, Dr. Douglas Adamson.

Probodha Abeykoon has been recognized as this year’s Stephanie H. Shaw Fellowship Scholar. This award is designated for a female student showing academic achievement and contributions outside of research.  Probodha has served as the leader of the Adamson Research Lab and has taken it upon herself to be the resident expert in several analytical techniques, such as four-point probe and thermal conductivity. She has two published papers and a third manuscript recently submitted. She has also presented her work at several ACS National Meetings. During the past 4 years Probodha has grown in into an excellent scientist and group leader.

The polymer program congratulates this year’s awardees with their tremendous efforts in both research and leadership in the IMS community.

Polymer Program Student Selected for 100Plus Scholarship

Polymer Program Graduate Student John ToribioPolymer Program student, John M. Toribio was awarded this year’s Student Scholarship from 100Plus, a US based organization that provides remote patient monitoring for chronic patients. Student applicants needed to submit a presentation answering the question, “How will remote patient monitoring technology advance in the future to provide better health for the patients?” John received a $2,000 prize and his presentation can be found on the 100Plus Website at the following link:

John is a 2nd year Chemistry Ph.D. student in the Sotzing Research Group working on the development of wearable electronic devices for health applications as well as synthesis and applications of cannabinoid polymers.

Dr. Ying Li Receives NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Ying Li is one of eight UConn faculty members, and three IMS faculty members, to receive a National Science Foundation Career CAREER Award in 2021.  Li  will develop a machine learning model to better understand the properties of a promising sustainable material.To learn more about the award  Visit UConn Today.

Luyi Sun Awarded Spring 2016 Scholarship Facilitation Fund Award

By Rhonda Ward

Dr. Luyi Sun
Dr. Luyi Sun

Dr. Luyi Sun is the recipient of a Spring 2016 Scholarship Facilitation Fund Award from the Office of the Vice President. for Research for Publication in Nature Communications, a Premium Open-access Journal for Maximum Impact. The Office of the Vice President for Research provides financial support up to $2,000 to faculty across all disciplines, on a competitive basis, to promote, support, and enhance the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of faculty at UConn. The Scholarship Facilitation Fund (SFF) is designed to assist faculty in the initiation, completion, or advancement of research projects, scholarly activities, creative works, or interdisciplinary initiatives that are critical to advancing the faculty member’s scholarship and/or creative works.

Polymer Program Researchers Kelly Burke and Anson Ma Receive CT Regenerative Medicine Grant

By: Kelly A. Salzo

Dr. Kelly Burke
Kelly Burke (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The CT Regenerative Medicine Research Fund Advisory Committee has awarded Dr. Kelly A. Burke (IMS/CBE) and Co-Investigator Anson W. K. Ma (IMS/CBE) a seed grant titled “Human intestine tissue model by 3D printing”. The grant will provide $200,000 for the research endeavor involving chemically modified silk proteins to be used for 3D printing, which will subsequently form stable hydrodels. These materials will be printed into intestine-like crypt structures and will incorporate cells from human intestine to improve understanding on how the geometry of the system alters the function of the cells. Dr. Burke is hopeful that “the data generated will not only advance our efforts in 3D printing soft materials, but will also enhance understanding of how cells interact and undergo repair processes in cultures with geometries that are more representative of the human intestine.” The applications of this research will be important to the study of intestine tissue models, which may be used to investigate disease progression and to develop therapeutics.

Anson Ma
Anson Ma

Dr. Kelly A. Burke received her Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 2010. In 2014, she joined UConn as an assistant professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and is a member of the IMS Polymer Program. Her research interests include synthesis and structure-property relationships of multifunctional polymeric materials, stimuli responsive polymers and networks, natural and synthetic biomaterials, and the design and application of polymeric systems to modulate inflammation and promote healing.

Dr. Anson W. K. received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2009. He joined UConn in 2011 as an assistant professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and the IMS Polymer Program. As Principal Investigator for the Complex Fluids Laboratory, his research centers on understanding the complex flow behavior (rheology) and processing of various complex fluids including foams, emulsions, nanoparticle suspensions, and biological fluids.

IMS Researcher Anson Ma Receives 2015 Metzner Early Career Award

By: Kelly A. Salzo

Anson Ma
Assistant Professor, Anson Ma

Anson W. K. Ma (IMS/CBE), Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, will receive the 2015 Arthur B. Metzner Early Career Award. This distinguished award, named after rheology pioneer Arthur B. Metzner, is distributed annually by the Society of Rheology to a young researcher “who has distinguished him/herself in rheological research, rheological practice, or service to rheology.” Dr. Ma will deliver a plenary lecture at the upcoming 87th Society of Rheology Annual Meeting in Baltimore, where he will receive a plaque and a $7,500 honorarium.

Anson W. K. Ma received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2009. He joined UConn in 2011 as a member of both the IMS Polymer Program and the Chemical Engineering Program. As Principal Investigator of the Complex Fluids Laboratory, his research focuses on understanding the complex flow behavior (rheology) and processing of various complex fluids including foams, emulsions, nanoparticle suspensions, and biological fluids. His lab is developing new techniques to improve the reliability and push the existing resolution limit of inkjet and 3D printing technology. Dr. Ma’s research on 3D printing has recently been featured on the front page of the Chronicle newspaper and Channel 8 News. In 2012, Dr. Ma received TA Instrument’s Distinguished Young Rheologist Award, which recognizes product innovation and research of new materials and applications that expand the field of rheology. The following year he received a prestigious NSF CAREER Award for his research on exploiting the size and shape of particles to improve the stability of emulsions typically found in agricultural, pharmaceutical, and personal care products. More recently, Dr. Ma is leading a major effort to establish a center of excellence for additive manufacturing of soft materials at UConn. The mission is to accelerate technology transfers to the industry and to provide an important training ground for future workforce in advanced manufacturing.

Sonia Chavez Receives the LSAMP Fellowship

By Kelly A. Salzo

Sonia Chavez
Sonia Chavez

Graduate Student Sonia Chavez of the IMS Polymer Program has received the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) fellowship. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this program provides continued support for students who participated in an LSAMP program during their undergraduate, offering up to two additional years of STEM education at the graduate level.

Sonia’s fellowship is part of LSAMP’s initiative to encourage and support “historically under-represented students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.” During her undergraduate studies at DePaul University, Sonia became involved with the Chicago Initiative for Research and Recruitment in Undergraduate Science (CIRRUS), NSF’s STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP), and the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Each organization shares a common goal to increasing the number of students graduating with STEM degrees, particularly students from populations currently underserving in these fields.

Sonia’s participation within these programs has provided her with opportunities to attend and organize support workshops for under-represented students. Additionally, she helped implement outreach activities to expose inner city children to science. By being awarded the LSAMP fellowship, Sonia hopes to continue her outreach and professional development, while devoting the rest of her time to

Douglas Adamson Joins TRI Board of Directors

By: Kelly A. Salzo

Associate Professor Douglas Adamson
Associate Professor Douglas Adamson

Dr. Douglas Adamson, (IMS/CHEM) Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department, has just been appointed to the board of directors of TRI/Princeton. Dr. Adamson joins a team dedicated to TRI’s mission of promoting the advancement of science and the enhancement of innovation, while pursuing potential contributions to society. The board of director’s diverse scientific disciplines allow for an interdisciplinary approach to surface science, materials science, optical measurement, and fluid/pore interaction. Doug becomes the only academic member of the board, with other members being senior scientists from companies such as DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter and Gamble.

TRI/Princeton is divided into a variety of laboratories and centers dedicated to serving industry, government, and academia. In addition to research, TRI’s Professional Education Program offers a variety of conferences, workshops and courses to provide its members with the tools to accommodate industry’s ever-changing needs. As their website explains, “We remain vigilant in seeking new opportunities and discoveries that will sustain the Institute into the future while remaining true to our principle of inspiring, educating and connecting through science.”

Young Scientist Exchange Takes UConn Researcher to Japan

Republished with permission of UConn Today

By Nan Cooper, SoE

Professor Anson Ma takes the Shinkansen (high-speed train) from Tokyo to Kyoto, during a five-day trip to Japan with the Young Scientist Exchange. (Photos courtesy of Anson Ma)
UConn researcher Anson Ma recently participated in a prestigious U.S.-Japan Young Scientist Exchange Program that enabled him to spend five days visiting top Japanese universities and research centers, where he presented his research on rheology and processing of nanofluids and met with fellow young researchers.The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, & Technology in Japan (MEXT) initiated the science diplomacy-style exchange program in 2003 to foster collaborations among U.S. and Japanese researchers in strategic areas. Leading young Japanese academics visit U.S. universities and researchers, and U.S. academics reciprocate.

The trip included a visit to the National Institute for Materials Science, including laboratories associated with the institute’s nanotechnology platform. (Photo courtesy of Anson Ma)
The trip included a visit to the National Institute for Materials Science, including laboratories associated with the institute’s nanotechnology platform.
Ma, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was nominated by a senior researcher for his contributions in understanding the flow behavior and processing of complex fluids for biomedical and energy applications. During day-long workshops from Dec. 9 to 13, Ma and his fellow U.S. and Japanese scientists delivered and attended presentations, toured laboratories, and discussed avenues for collaboration.The group visited the National Institute for Materials Science, including laboratories associated with the institute’s nanotechnology platform; the University of Tokyo; Osaka University; and Kyoto University. Among the technology highlights that particularly impressed Ma was the remarkable ultra-high voltage Hitachi electron microscope housed at Osaka University, which is more than 13 meters high.

The ultra-high voltage electron microscope at Osaka University. (Photo courtesy of Anson Ma)
The ultra-high voltage electron microscope at Osaka University.
The delegates also enjoyed one day of sightseeing, when they took the high-speed Shinkansen train (also known as the ‘bullet train’) from Tokyo to Kyoto for a tour of the 17th-century Kodaiji Temple.

The research trip was organized and led by Alexander Revzin, currently a program director in the Biosensing Division at the National Science Foundation and a University of California-Davis professor, and Dino Di Carlo, associate professor of bioengineering at UCLA.

“The goal is to unveil areas of mutual interest and to build collaborative research bridges in transformative research arenas,” says Di Carlo.

Professor Hidetoshi Kotera, executive vice-president of Kyoto University for external strategy, knowledge, and technology transfer and innovation, speaks about current research activities and future plans for the university.The exchange program focuses on bio-nano-micro technologies, and while the themes have remained constant since 2003, the application areas – for example, manufacturing, sensing, and energy – of the visits vary from year to year. When Japanese delegates come to the U.S., they visit various different U.S. universities during their exchange tours; in recent years, these have included UCLA, Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of North Carolina.

Ma says the experience was extremely worthwhile, noting that he met potential collaborators among the U.S. delegates as well as among the Japanese faculty. He found the work of three Japanese researchers particularly compelling. One is involved in biomechanics research focusing on the motion of cells, and another is developing a bioadhesive for creating 3-D tissue using cells as building blocks – “just like playing with Lego blocks,” says Ma. A third is developing advanced biomimetic materials.

A visit to Tokyo University, where shoes are not allowed in many labs; visitors must exchange their shoes for slippers. (Photo courtesy of Anson Ma)
A visit to Tokyo University, where shoes are not allowed in many labs; visitors must exchange their shoes for slippers.
Ma was also impressed with the laboratories and cleanroom facilities, which he says were organized and efficient. However, he was surprised to find that in Japanese laboratories, as in living spaces, scientists must don slippers before entering research spaces – a custom that is forbidden in U.S. labs.

Learn more about Ma’s research program here and here.