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Spring 2022 PMSE Best Poster Award Winners

The American Chemical Society Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) is pleased to announce the winners of the PMSE Best Poster Awards. Eight undergraduate and graduate students were selected from the PMSE/POLY Joint Poster session at the Spring 2022 ACS NAtional Meeting.

Claire Dingwell
University of Minnesota

Regiospecific and linear poly(ethylene-co-vinyl alcohol) via the ring-opening metathesis polymerization of 3-acetoxy cyclooctene

Claire Dingwell was born in Dover, Ohio and graduated from Dover High School in 2013. She attended Carnegie Mellon University and received a B.S. in Chemistry with University Honors in 2017. During her time at Carnegie Mellon, she was advised by Professor Kevin Noonan and performed research in the areas of organic electronics and catalyst-transfer polycondensation. Additionally, she was awarded a Snyder Scholarship to perform mechanochemistry research under Professor Jeffrey Moore at the University of Illinois in 2016. In her free time, Claire was a resident assistant and the president of the Mellon College of Science Student Advisory Council. In 2017, Claire began her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, advised by Professor Marc Hillmyer. Her research has focused on the synthesis and characterization of model polyolefins and polyolefin copolymers by ring-opening metathesis polymerization. She has also acted as chair of the public relations committee for the Joint Safety Team. After graduation, Claire plans to pursue an industrial research and development career at Avient in Avon Lake, Ohio.

Robert Enright
University of Massachusetts

Self-wrinkling polymer films via initiated chemical vapor deposition

Robert N. Enright is a Ph.D. candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  He grew up in Stevens Point, WI and received an A.B. in Chemistry from Ripon College.  Robert’s graduate research investigates wrinkling phenomena, stress development, and mechanical properties of polymer films grown by chemical vapor deposition.  He has served as vice president of the Polymer Science and Engineering Club at UMass and shares his enthusiasm for materials science through local outreach activities.  In his free time, he enjoys wilderness hikes with his Yorkshire Terrier, Ollie.

Hayden Houck
Western Washington University

Chemical and physical tailoring of guanidine-based covalent adaptable networks

Hayden Houck is a 4th-year chemistry major at Western Washington University. When they aren’t making polymers in lab with Kate, they love to go out and enjoy the incredible diversity of flora and fauna around Bellingham. Hayden has loved science from a very young age and has been interested in chemistry specifically since she took her first chemistry class in high school. After completing their undergraduate degree, they plan to continue on to grad school and pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry or biochemistry in order to continue participating in research. She really enjoyed attending this spring’s ACS conference and looks forward to attending more conferences in the future.

Mara Kuenen
University of Virginia

Connecting molecular features of poly(beta-amino ester)s to their degradation and solution behavior to engineer functional materials with controlled lifetimes

Mara K. Kuenen is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia under the advisement of Rachel Letteri. She obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University in 2018 where she conducted undergraduate research with Jeffrey Csernia and Katsuyuki Wakabayashi. Mara’s research focuses on designing materials with controlled lifetimes to address issues related to plastic waste pollution, drug delivery, patterning of porous materials, and more. Specifically, she studies hydrolytically degradable poly(amino ester)s using a variety of characterization techniques to understand the interplay of solution pH, solution behavior, and degradation. Mara is also working to introduce new functionality into poly(amino ester)s to expand the application space of these polymers. Outside of lab, Mara served as a graduate TA for Chemical Thermodynamics and Staged Unit Operations, for which she received the department TA award, and as the Graduate President of UVA’s chapter of Women in Chemical Engineering (WChE).

Jasmine Lim
University of Southern Mississippi

Attaining infrared photodetection in devices with narrow bandgap conjugated polymers

Jasmine Lim is from Rosemead, CA and received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at San Diego State University in 2017. She is currently a 5th year graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi’s school of polymer science and engineering under the advisement of Dr. Jason D. Azoulay. Her work focuses on the characterization of narrow band gap conjugated polymers synthesized by her research group and their fabrication into infrared organic photodetectors. Currently, she is investigating techniques to reduce the inherent noise in photodetectors.

Jaylene Martinez
University of Colorado

Bonding of membranes by viscous polymers:  Infiltration kinetics and its impact on mechanical integrity of the bonded polymer/membrane structure

Jaylene is a Chicana from a small, beautiful town called Ojo Sarco, deep within the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico.  She is a first-generation college student, raised by a single mother, who thought earning a Bachelor’s degree was more than enough. Never did she imagine pursuing a PhD would be a part of her journey. But by overcoming adversity and the challenges that come with being a first-generation college student from a small rural town, she graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2017. She is now a PhD Candidate in the Mechanical Engineering  Department at the University of Colorado Boulder under the advisement of Prof. Yifu Ding, awaiting her return to the community she calls home. As an alumnus of TRiO, she can relate to the meaning of what pursuing not only what her dream means, but most importantly the dream of her family.   She has been beyond blessed with the opportunity to collaborate with MilliporeSigma as well as the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) – Boulder to study the infiltration kinetics of a thermoplastic polymer in porous filtration membranes. Her graduate degree and thesis project has opened many opportunities to develop new dreams as well as grow and learn as a researcher. 

Kate McConnell
Western Washington University

Chemical and physical tailoring of guanidine-based covalent adaptable networks

Kate McConnell (she/her), originally from Redmond, WA is a graduating biochemistry major in the honors college at Western Washington University. She joined the Larsen group in January 2020, and since then, she has fallen in love with research, data analysis, and getting to learn skills like polymer synthesis and material testing. Outside of research, Kate loves cooking, playing guitar, and getting outside into the beautiful Pacific Northwest as much as she can. In the fall, Kate will begin a biochemistry PhD program at the University of Texas at Austin. She is looking forward to learning how to design her own experiments, and to eventually pursue a career in biomedical research. Her first ACS conference experience was amazing, and she can’t wait to interact at future meetings with more amazing scientists changing the face of healthcare!

Thivani Senathiraja
Iowa State University

Tuning the intermolecular interactions of sulfonated ionomer via salt in solvent systems

Thivani Senathiraja is a fourth-year PhD student in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University under the supervision of Dr. Chris Cornelius. Her research aims to advance basic science related to the design of functional materials and the development of morphology-composition-property-transport relationships related to random and multiblock ionomers. Her dissertation studies morphological transitions of Penta Block Copolymers  (PBC) ionomer multi blocks by tuning their intermolecular interactions (complexation of PBC with metal cations; PBC  blend preparation with unsulfonated ionomer; and thermal annealing of PBC hybrid nanocomposites) and developing relationships between structure and function. The project takes inspiration from the accelerated research interest in tailoring the properties of the multiblock ionomers fueled by their ability to assemble into various heterogeneous nanoscale structures. These structures’ spatial arrangement and connectivity define film strength, durability, and molecule transport. Systematically designing the spatial arrangement is a key to understanding the structure and property relationships of proton-exchange membranes (PEM)/ionomers. Such a design may solve global challenges and contribute to renewable technologies such as water and energy.

Thivani holds a Btech in Chemical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, India, where she was awarded the SPDC fellowship for her excellent academic performance throughout her undergraduate program. Her final year undergraduate research on ‘Adsorption of selective fluoroquinolones by cysteine modified silane magnetic nanocomposite from the aqueous phase’ has been accepted into IJEST, Springer Nature. She is currently the elected president of the Graduate Society of Women Engineers at Iowa State University (GradSWE_ISU), where she strives to nurture and empower the Engineering graduate students community at ISU. She is also an ardent supporter of  STEM education and promotes it by organizing and volunteering at several outreach programs targeted at young kids, young adults, and high school teachers.

From left to right (Claire Dingwell, Robert Enright, Hayden Houck, Mara Kuenen)
From left to right (Jasmine Lim, Jaylene Martinez, Kate McConnell, Thivani Senathiraja)