The polymer program honored Dr. Jaime A. Gómez as the 2023 Distinguished
Alumni. Dr. Gomez completed his Polymer Ph.D. at UConn in 1989 before beginning his career as a scientist and organizational leader. He has had a successful career including both research and leadership roles. On Friday, September 8, he opened the fall 2023 Polymer Seminar series with his talk titled, “Unexpected Challenges in the Life of a Polymer Scientist”. The talk included stories of research, product development, and exploring various real world challenges during his 30-year career as a polymer scientist. The theme of his presentation is that scientists build a foundation of knowledge and skills during their academic career, but face new and unexplored fields in the industrial setting.
Dr. Gómez received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Colombia, an MS in Organic Chemistry from Wichita State University, Kansas, and a Ph.D. in Polymer Science from the University of Connecticut. In addition to his scientific education, Dr. Gómez received an MBA from New York University (Stern School of Business) with concentration in International Business, Finance & Marketing. Dr. Gómez has 30-years of industry experience that includes plastics, specialty chemicals, and materials handling—industries where he has conducted basic and applied research, evaluation and acquisitions of technologies and companies, international business development, and corporate strategic planning. Gómez is currently President & CEO of Equitech, a company dedicated to the in-line measurement of chemical concentration, and color and film thickness for a myriad of industries.
Dr. Gómez has been an active member and leader of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for the past 35 years. He joined the Society ofPlastics Engineers in 1987 while pursuing his Polymer Ph.D. here at the UConn, serving as the SPE’s Student Chapter President for two terms. He also served as a member of SPE’s Extrusion Division Board of Directors for six years and helped establish the Next Generation Advisory Board (NGAB). Dr. Gómez has been a member of SPE’s Board of Directors since 2013 and has served as SPE’s Secretary, Treasurer, VP Marketing & Communications, VP Events, and President-Elect. He received SPE’s President’s Cup in 2014 and the Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2017. He also invented and directed The Plastics Race™, an event that promotes networking and knowledge exchange between SPE members. Gómez was named President of SPE for the 2020-2021 term.
Polymer Ph.D. student, Xiangyi Xi was the 2023 recipient of the Stephanie H. Shaw Scholarship. She made some major contributions in developing biosensors for the Papadimitrakopoulos research lab. She helped implement a multi-potential step pulsing test technique which lead to increased sensitivity and reduced power consumption of implantable glucose sensors. This lead to a patent currently in application. More recently, she has helped develop of an enzymatic cascade sensor. In addition to her research, Xiangyi has continued to mentor the next wave of scientists, including 10 undergraduates over the past 5 years. Xiangyi is pictured with Polymer Director, Dr. Kelly Burke.
Polymer Program Ph.D. student, Hanyi Duan, was the 2023 recipient of the Samuel J. Huang Graduate Student Research Award. Hanyi was recognized for his success in research, journal articles, and strong collaborative nature in the research laboratory. As a researcher, Hanyi has taken a leading role in developing new synthetic methodology to asymmetric polymer grafted metal nanoparticles. This research was the foundation of 6 publications as lead author. Hanyi is pictured with Polymer Program Director, Dr. Kelly Burke, and his major advisor, Dr. Jie He.
The IMS Polymer Program Awards committee has selected two awardees for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.
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 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, 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 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.
Dr. Luyi Sun is the recipient of a Spring 2016 Scholarship Facilitation Fund Award from the Office of the Vice President. for Research forPublication 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.
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.
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.
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.