Ph.D., Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 2000
M.S., Engineering Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1997
B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University, 1994
Jan 2007 - Present - Associate Professor, Biological Systems Engineering Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Sept. 2002 - Dec. 2006, Research Chemist, USDA/ARS, Beltsville, Md.
Apr. 2000 - Sept. 2002 - Advanced R&D Engineer, Polymer Diagnostics, Inc. (a division of the PolyOne Corp.), Avon Lake, Ohio
Jan. 1995 - Feb. 1996 - Project Engineer, Utility Development Corporation, Livingston, N.J.
Editorial Board Member, Biological Physics, Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group.
I have mentored 27 undergraduate students in my research laboratory in the past 5 years and served as the Director of the NSF-REU Site: Bioprocess Engineering for Sustainability.
The Renewable Materials Research Group is interested in how polymer molecules change shape and how that can be used advantageously to process polymers in new ways. We want to design scalable, low energy processes for renewable materials. We are pursuing innovative materials and interesting processing:
Self-assembly. “Template” proteins are short, hydrophobic proteins that form β-sheets to minimize free energy. “Adder” proteins are hydrophilic, α-helical proteins that are stable by themselves. However, when mixed with a template protein, adder proteins will undergo α-helix to β-sheet conformation change. The two proteins cooperatively self-assemble from the nm to the μm scale into large amyloid fibers 10-20 μm across. It is possible to control the shape and properties of the fiber through protein choice. We are using this unique construction scheme as a platform to design useful materials such as textiles, composites, biosensors, and catalysts.
Polymer Processing. Our research group specializes in biopolymer compounding. We continue to pursue the creation of new biopolymers for use in commodity plastics applications like packaging and automobile parts. Typical polymer processing involves synthesis, compounding, and molding. Biopolymers are synthesized in water at low temperature and atmospheric pressure. Typical fossil fuel based polymers are synthesized in organic solvent and/or at very high temperature and pressure. Both are compounded and molded but biopolymers are compounded and molded at much lower temperature.
The Renewable Materials Research Group is part of the Biomolecular Engineering Cluster at Virginia Tech, which includes the Biofuels and Carbohydrates Laboratory , Metabolic Engineering and Systems Biology Laboratory , Ruder Research Group , and Zhang Research Group .
(* undergraduate student, ** graduate student, *** post-doc)