Public Release: 

12th National Graduate Research Polymer Conference

University of Akron hosts hundreds of the nation's best and brightest grad students

University of Akron

Why think small? They are researching how to end global warming, develop inexpensive clean energy, regenerate bones for those suffering severe limb injuries and yes, even cure cancer. 'They' are the more than 500 graduate students from nearly 80 universities across the nation attending the 12th National Graduate Research Polymer Conference today and tomorrow (Monday - Tuesday, June 20-21) at The University of Akron.

UA's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering will host nearly 600 registrants--a record number for the biennual conference focused on research in polymer science and polymer engineering. Students are presenting and discussing their areas of inquiry with colleagues from across the country, as well as with corporate and government representatives. 

"Hundreds of the nation's brightest graduate students are taking advantage of this opportunity to discuss their research face-to-face with their peers," said Eric Amis, dean of UA's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, "and they are also meeting potential employers who have sponsored the conference and are attending to meet these young researchers." Amis adds the conference also gives students a close-up look at The University of Akron--home to the nation's largest and most diverse polymer program, located in the heart of the polymer industry in the U.S.

"Events such as this offer insights into some of the newest polymer research and the opportunity to meet the best scientists and engineers in the field. It is an effective forum to build our networks, discuss mutual scientific interests, and initiate new collaborations toward commercially viable innovations," said Brian King, director of Interlayers Technology for the Eastman Chemical Company. "Most importantly, this conference also offers us a chance to meet and interact with some of the top young talent in polymer science and engineering who will become our future workforce. Our sponsorship of the conference is a reflection of Eastman's commitment to innovation, growth, and educating the next generation of innovators."

"The conference will draw young talent to Akron to explore some our most pressing global challenges. It will help put our city on the map as a place to discover new ideas and connect," said Kyle Kutuchief, Akron program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a major sponsor of the conference.

Below are a few of the hundreds of research presentations scheduled for the conference:

Jeffrey Foster of Virginia Polytechnic will talk about his research into time-release drugs for the more effective targeting of cancer cells (Monday, 2:35 p.m. in Student Union Room 335)

Gina Policastro of Akron will explain her work focused on creating materials for tissue engineering that could help regenerate bone for limb injuries such as those suffered by soldiers from IEDs (Monday, 2:05 p.m., Student Union Room 335)

Brian Schmatz of Georgia Tech will highlight his investigation into packaging materials that can be created without using hazardous solvents (Tuesday, 9:50 a.m., Student Union Theatre)

Kai Wang of Akron will discuss how solar cells might be designed more efficiently so they can become more competitive with fossil fuels and thereby reduce global warming (Monday, 2:20 p.m. in Student Union Room 312)

An awards banquet spotlighting some of the best presentations will be held Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at the John S. Knight Center. Dr. Jeffrey G. Linhardt, a researcher at Verily Life Sciences (formerly called Google Life Sciences), will deliver the keynote speech. The developer of two commercialized contact lens products, Linhardt's remarks will focus on work to develop smart contact lenses containing tiny on-board chemical sensors and communication devices.


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