Two chemical engineering students receive best poster awards for work in polymer advancement

By Alyssa Turner

Published: Sep 14, 2021 1:54:00 PM

Chemical engineering graduate students Vinita Shinde and Luca Kim. Chemical engineering graduate students Vinita Shinde and Luca Kim.

Chemical engineering graduate students Vinita Shinde and Luca Kim have brought home back-to-back poster awards to the Beckingham Polymer Research Group

Led by chemical engineering assistant professor Bryan Beckingham, the group informs the design of novel polymer research materials for target applications by combining synthetic polymer chemistry with materials characterization. 

“Vinita and Luca have been repeatedly recognized for the excellence of both their research and their science communication, an increasingly important aspect of research,” said Beckingham. 

Shinde received the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division (PMSE) Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for her poster, “Self-healing of thermoplastic polymer composites via environmentally friendly solvent-filled microcapsules.” 

When a polymer material fails, replacement can be expensive and often impossible. Shinde’s poster, “Self-healing of thermoplastic polymer composites via environmentally friendly solvent-filled microcapsules,” demonstrated improvement in the service life of polymer composites by automatically detecting and responding to damage in the system. Recovery of material properties using encapsulated fluid extends the useful lifetime of these parts. 

Kim, presenting two posters in “Water, Energy and the Nexus” poster session, received the Best Poster Award from the North American Membrane Society (NAMS) for his work on multi-solute transport in ion-exchange membranes for advancement and the introduction of a new class of ion-exchange membranes, suitable for fuel cell devices. His posters demonstrated relationships between membrane chemistry and transport behavior in direct urea fuel cells and CO2 reduction devices, both next-generation energy applications. By understanding how membranes respond when challenged with complex mixtures, new membrane chemistries can be developed and tailor-made for these applications. 

“I’m really proud of their accomplishments,” said Beckingham. “Vinita has been able to adapt self-healing microcapsule approaches for two different 3D printing technologies as well as a common bulk thermoplastic. Luca has led the way on our recent efforts to understand complex diffusion behavior in ion-exchange membranes towards more efficient fuel cells and solar fuels devices.”

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery, cmontgomery@auburn.edu, 334.844.3668

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