“This involvement has forced me to greatly improve my communication abilities and will be invaluable as I continue my career in scientific research.”
Hometown: Tremonton, Utah
Year: Fourth-year PhD student
Program: Chemical Engineering
Mission Areas: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials
Advisor: C. Allan Guymon, Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
What brought you to the Iowa Technology Institute?
My research advisor has strong connections with my alma mater, Weber State University. I was discussing my future goals with a professor at that institution, and he got me in touch with my current advisor. After a visit as a prospective student, I was very interested in the research being conducted within the department and was impressed with the instrumental capabilities of the facilities, so I decided to enroll in the PhD program.
Describe your research and how it is intended to improve our world.
In my research, I am developing additives to control the molecular structure of photopolymer networks to enhance material properties. The current limitation to the continued expansion of photopolymers (polymers created using light) is the low resiliency of the material, which stems from the low control over the highly heterogenous network structure. I am using small molecule chemistry to create oligomers (short chain polymers), which allow high control over their structure, as network directors in photocurable resins. By enhancing control over network structure and material performance, photopolymers can be implemented as structural materials in high-stress conditions. This increase in performance will improve the utility of these materials in the 3D printing, protective coatings, and high-strength adhesive industries.
What do you enjoy most about your research?
I enjoy testing predictions that are conceived from previous experimental results, especially when they turn out to be correct. The confirmation of a correct prediction not only reaffirms the hypotheses but also provides a future direction to keep propelling the research forward.
What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to be doing professionally in 10 years?
My goal is to wrap up my PhD and graduate by the Fall of 2022. Additionally, I want to find employment in industry working on research and development in polymer science with an emphasis on photopolymer processes. In 10 years, I want to be employed in a position that is intellectually rewarding and work with others that have a passion for problem solving and innovation.