Chemistry professor presented research at Polymer Physics seminar

Robert Mathers, assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State New Kensington, presented his research on renewable resources Oct 19 at the Polymer Physics seminar at the University Park campus near State College, Pa. Mathers presentation, "Controlling the Architecture and Functionality of Polymerization Systems with Renewable Resources," examined the integration of renewable resources with catalytic polymerization processes. The result has potential to control architecture, molecular weight, chemical functionality, and degradability.

Mathers talk was part of ongoing series sponsored by the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University Park campus. The seminars provide opportunities for sharing frontiers in polymer science and engineering with Penn State graduate students and faculty members.

Two of Mather's students, Justin Rectenwald a freshman from New Alexandria, Pa., and Justin Delancey, a junior from Apollo, Pa., accompanied him. The pair spoke to students about the materials science program. Delancey is a veteran of student research projects. For the past two years, under Mather's guidance, he has conducted research on polymers and presented the findings at the New Kensington campus' annual Research and Creative Exposition that is held each spring.

Mathers is currently doing research related to biodiesel fuel additives. In 2008 he was awarded a $65,000 research grant by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for a three-year study to develop additives to improve the oxidative stability and low temperature performance of biodiesel and diesel blends. The organization annually distributes more than $22 million in grants for basic research in petroleum and related fields.

Mathers holds a doctorate in polymer science from the University of Akron and joined the New Kensington campus faculty in 2004 after two years as a postdoctorate research associate at Cornell University. He has published numerous book and articles and he and Roderic P. Quirk, professor of polymer science at the University of Akron, have applied for a patent for a polymerization of oxiranes with a lithium-containing initiator.

This is his second grant from AMC. In 2005, he was awarded $35,000 to research conducting ring-opening metathesis polymerizations in renewable monoterpene solvents instead of petroleum based solvents. Monoterpenes, such as d-limonene, are a broad class of naturally occurring substances.

"Dr. Mathers has been very successful in obtaining external funding to support his research," said Arlene Hall, director of academic affairs at the New Kensington campus. "We are particularly pleased that he has engaged our students in undergraduate research and has provided funding for these students to work in his lab throughout the year."

A resident of Gibsonia, Pa., Mathers teaches organic chemistry and general chemistry lab at the campus. In additional to his coursework, Mathers is co-chair of the annual Undergraduate Research Fair. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students choose a topic, conduct research, draw conclusions, and present their information formally through a poster or oral presentation to 10 judges and the public. Mathers is the adviser for chemistry projects and his students earned certificates of excellence in 2005 and 2006.

For more on academic programs at the campus, visit online.


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Last Updated January 09, 2015