Polymers are chemical compounds with repeating structural units. Synthetic plastics are examples of polymers. A colloid is a material that is microscopically dispersed in another material. Research at UWEC includes synthesizing and characterizing new types of polymers and colloids.
My current research interests focus on the synthesis of stimuli-responsive polymers for a wide range of applications including oil recovery. My research program utilizes Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) to control both polymer functionality and polymer architecture. ATRP can be used to synthesize branched and brush (co)polymers with desired chemical functionality to tailor polymer response to external stimuli such as temperature, pH, or ionic strength. My research group synthesizes stimuli-responsive polymers, including poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate), using ATRP to achieve self-assembling diblock brush polymers or polymer-grafted colloids for applications ranging from smart surfactants to smart nanocomposites. My background includes synthesis and surface functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles and colloids, polymerization using controlled free radical techniques such as ATRP and RAFT, patterning of photoresponsive surfaces, and preparation of microfluidic devices for formation of microcapsules for carbon capture.