The IMS Polymer Program, IMS Materials Science Program, and the Materials Science and Engineering Department held their first in-person poster session since 2019 in the brand new building, Science 1. The COVID pandemic put this traditional event on hold for 3 years. Forty two graduate students from twenty research labs presented posters. Students welcomed the opportunity to share their research and ideas with other students, faculty, and guests from industry. The session, coordinated alongside the IMS Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP) 2023 Annual Meeting, brought over 100 industry partners to meet the students and faculty participants. The new building with its open layout added energy to the event. IMS thanks participants for a truly successful day.
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.
At the request of local industry, Institute of Materials Science Director Steven L. Suib created the Advanced Materials Characterization (AMC) Certificate Graduate Certificate in Engineering program. The program is designed to help researchers understand the latest techniques of identification and analysis of materials. The curriculum consists of four courses all developed by Dr. Suib: Structural Analysis, Microstructural and Morphological Analysis, Compositional Analyses, and Surface and Interfacial Analysis.
The online format of all the courses allows professionals to participate regardless of their schedule or location. The program includes one student from Ohio and another from Puerto Rico. At the conclusion of the spring 2022 semester, 3 students completed the certificate program. One student reported that they were impressed by the course format and extensive content, and they have implemented a variety of the techniques for their research and development position. AMC is another great example of IMS’s willingness to react to the needs of local industry.
For more information about the Advanced Materials Characterization Certificate Program, visit: https://engineeringcertificates.uconn.edu/advanced-materials-characterization-certificate/
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.
After two years of restrictions due to the COVID virus, the Polymer Program held its first in-person poster session since 2019. The event kicked off a 2-day open house for graduate student recruitment and also broke the long streak of virtual events.
Poster boards were dusted off and set up in the new Gant Complex Atrium, now called the “Light Court”, with a new collection of posters. Faculty and students expressed much gratification for the escape from the cyber world and return to the tradition of in-person discussions. Despite the masks, the smiles could be seen and the joy of the event could be felt by all.
A few faculty and students passing through the area felt the magnetic pull of the science talk and enthusiastically joined the fun. The event included 15 posters from polymer research laboratories, more than two dozen students, five visiting prospective students, and faculty from four departments. While the times change and technology evolves, it will be difficult to replace the glory of a traditional poster session.
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.
After completing a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from St. Josephs Arts & Science College in Bangalore, India, Deepthi Varghese joined the UConn Chemistry graduate program in the fall semester of 2014. After hearing brief research presentations from the chemistry departmental faculty, she became interested in Polymer Science with Prof. Douglas Adamson, an unexpected diversion from her initial plans for a career in biochemistry into a field in which she had no experience.
Although the lack of experience created a steep learning curve, Deepthi embraced this new research direction. While she faced challenges during the first two years, looking back, Deepthi says that she gained far more knowledge than expected, including polymer science, electro chemistry, and setting up scientific research laboratories.
Deepthi also struggled with many challenges regarding science including the fact that experiments are more likely to fail than succeed; science takes far more time than initially expected; and there is never enough time to accomplish everything. Lessons like this can be applied to all aspects of life, business, and art, as well as science.
In addition to the science, Deepthi has increased her knowledge of communications, independent learning, and keeping an open mind to feedback from all sources. She realized that you never know who will have valuable knowledge.
“Keeping an open ear and open mind allows you to learn from faculty, technicians, graduate students, and undergraduate students as well,” Deepthi says. She noted that undergraduates, especially those from outside disciplines, are also able to contribute bits of knowledge to the scientific challenges of the day.
Deepthi became involved with UConn organizations, the South Asia Community (Tarang) and the Graduate School Senate, where she was treasurer and president, respectively. This experience helped her learn organizational leadership.
Looking back on her graduate experience at UConn, Deepthi says that she grew as a scientist as well as a person. She had a number of unexpected experiences that changed her in many ways, all positive. In November, 2019, Deepthi started her professional career as a TD Etch Module Engineer at Intel, Hillsboro, Oregon.
By Kelly A. Salzo
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