Shannon LeighNanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture, and Technology IGERT
University of California, Davis
As an incoming first-year student, I was attracted to the NEAT-IGERT program by its multidisciplinary character. Current trends in research chemistry require a multidisciplinary background in order to fully understand the scope of any truly interesting project. Though I have yet to reap the full benefit afforded me by the NEAT-IGERT program, the funding I've received has allowed me to come to UC Davis this summer and get a head start on my research project. This has been a phenomenal advantage in my academic career, and has helped to reinforce my decision to join the program. I look forward to the future opportunities I'm certain to encounter as a result of receiving the NEAT-IGERT fellowship.
Research Focus: ''The Fundamental Science of Nanoscale Polymer Brushes''
In this project, I am investigating the fundamental properties of nanoscale polymer brushes. Although polymer chemistry is a relatively new discipline, the bulk properties of many polymers are well-understood. Similarly, the properties of even microscale polymers have been investigated. To date, however, nanoscale polymerization has not been well-characterized; thus many questions remain about whether there are any fundamental changes in polymer properties as their size decreases. In particular, we are interested in edge effects, wettability, mechanical properties, and kinetics. This is a great project because it integrates nearly every field of chemistry into a cohesive effort: it combines organic polymer synthesis with analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and instrumentation. With the understanding that this research will bring to the field, we will be better able to anticipate and develop novel applications for nanoscale polymer compounds.
Internship or Partner Interaction:
Vistakon – a division of Johnson & Johnson Visioncare, Jacksonville, FL. (05/01 – 02/02)
Investigated the properties of novel polymers whose intended purpose was to serve as a wettable coating for contact lenses to reduce the incidence of dry eye syndrome associated with the use of contacts. The work included the synthesis and purification of polymers via radical-transfer polymerization; data collection and analysis, including contact angle measurements, viscometry, and rheology; and small-scale production of test batches of contact lenses.
B.S., Chemistry, Jacksonville University, 2002
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