My research interests are in the physical characterization and structure-property relationships of polymers, including thermodynamics of phase behavior in tertiary, binary, and single-component systems. Typical characterization techniques include FT-IR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) and DSC (differential scanning calorimetry).

Current research focuses on the crystallization of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(caprolactone) (PEO-b-PCL) copolymers.
PEO-b-PCL is a biocompatible, biodegradable copolymer. The degradation and mechanical properties are strongly dependent on the microstructure. Each block is capable of crystallizing; however, their melting temperatures are very similar. As such, other factors, such as casting solvent and thermal history, play an important role in the crystallization behavior.  By controlling the crystallization behavior, it is possible to tailor these properties, either strength or degradation time/amount, for specific applications. By understanding the fundamental development of crystals in these materials, these concepts can be applied to other biocompatible, biodegradable copolymer systems.

*The background image was created from electron microscope images of PCL (hexagon), PLLA (diamond), and PEO (square) single crystals.  Each crystal is on the order of hundreds of square micrometers (1 x 10-6 cm2) in size.

Current (bold) and Past (italics) Student Research Assistants**
  Conor Sharp '13                   Project Title: Sequential Crystallization in Biocompatible Block Copolymers through Solvent Mixing
  Tyler Torbet '13                   Project Title: Determination of a Polymer Crystallization Relationship using FTIR Spectroscopy and DSC
  Elliott Hasenkopf '14         Topic: Crystallization Kinetics of PEO-b-PCL Copolymer Films at Various Temperatures (SI)
  Matthew Uhlman '14 
       Project Title: Effect of Solvent-Polymer Interaction and Temperature on the Crystallization of PCL and PEO
  Will de Montmollin '14     Project Title: A Comparison of Drop-cast and Spin-cast Films of PEO-b-PCL Using FTIR
  Jordan Encarnacion '14    Project Title: Analyzing Effects of Changing Temperature on the Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL via FTIR 
  Chris Nardi '15                    Project Title: Analysis of PEO-b-PCL Isothermal Crystallization using TD-FTIR Spectroscopy  
  Bridgette McCauley '15     Topic: Optimization of Experimental Procedures in IR of PEO and PCL Films, Solvent Annealing Affects (SI work)
                                                   Project Title: Determination of Percent Crystallinity Using FTIR and DSC
  Alli Carandang '15             Topic: Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL Copolymer Films at Various Temperatures (SI work)
                                                   Project Title: Synthesis of Caffeine Encapsulating Microspheres using PEO-b-PCL
  Mark Seraly '15                   Project Title: The Enzymatic Degradation of Diblock Copolymers by [Berkholderia cepacia] Lipases
 Kristi Allen '16                     Topic: Solvent Effects on Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL Copolymers (SI)
 Natasha Brigham '17         Project Title: Determining the Solvent Trends and Effects on the Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL
  Justin Jurzcyk '17                Project Title: Chemotherapeutic Drug-Loading Potential of PEO-b-PCL Polymer Films with pH Responsive Release Rates
  Brittney Hunt '17                Project Title: Shape Memory Properties in Flexible Slabstock Polyurethane (PUR) Foams
  Samantha Koziar '17        Project Title: Analysis of UV-Absorption of PEO-b-PCL Films with the Addition of a UV-Blocking Agent

  Cole Tower '19 - IS: Spring 2016 - Spring 2017, SI: 2016, 2017 
  Topic: Thickness and Solvent Effects on Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL Films

  Max Steffen '19 - IS: Spring 2016 - Spring 2017, SI: 2016
  Topic: Sub-Room Temperature Crystallization of PEO-b-PCL films with Large wPCL

  Hannah Fischer '18 - SI: 2016, IS: Fall 2016 - Spring 2017, SP: 2017-2018
  Topic: Time-Dependent Release Rates of Methylene Blue from Polymer Films as a Possible Treatment for Anaphylaxis

**IS = independent study, SI = summer intern, SP = senior project advisee