Exploring the future: Scholar proud to represent research during Homecoming week

Editor’s Note: The Schreyer Honors College is featuring Scholars who have been selected to the 2017 Homecoming Student Court.

Schreyer Honors Scholar Hannah Pohlmann enjoys the endless possibilities that come from working with polymers, commonly synonymous with plastics. Research applications in this field range from synthesizing the newest, most effective sunscreen to adjusting the impact properties of polymers used in military safety equipment.

This vast expanse of possibilities is what originally drew Pohlmann to her major.

“You could make a new polymer any day now that would have properties we’ve never seen before,” she said.

Pohlmann, who is double-majoring in material science and engineering and mathematics, already has extensive research experience, which she says has solidified her desire to work in research and development.

“I want to continue doing projects where I’m working on something new,” she said.

Researching under T.C. Mike Chung on his oil spill recovery project, and currently with Michael Hickner on resin formulation for use in 3D printing, Pohlmann gained experience with both working toward a defined goal and with trial-and-error work. During the summer, she had an internship with ExxonMobil working with the company’s polyethylene development group.

Pohlmann, of Newtown Square, has had her work on fundamental equations for ferroelectric oxides published in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters. She is writing her honors thesis on her work in Hickner’s lab on membranes capable of detecting contaminants in water during water filtration. As a first-year student, she used data analysis to study mathematical models of self-driving cars as part of a research program at Temple University.

Pohlmann received the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship during a ceremony in October. She believes the networking and career development possibilities with other scholars in the program, many of whom she met during a weekend in Washington, D.C., will be the best and most enduring part of the honor.

“If you were really stuck on a research problem, there’s probably someone in the Astronaut Scholarship community that has worked on something similar,” she said.

Pohlmann, who is also involved in the Penn State Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the Penn State French Club, the Springfield THON fundraising organization and is a math tutor for Penn State Learning, is one of three Schreyer Scholars on this year’s Penn State Homecoming court, joining Aaron Blakney and Alexander Shockley.

“I feel like part of what I’m representing is some of the research at Penn State,” she said. “I think it’s a really important part of the University that sometimes isn't emphasized.”

The Schreyer Honors College, regarded as one of the nation’s top programs of its kind, promotes achieving academic excellence with integrity, building a global perspective, and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars, including Gateway Scholars admitted after their first or second year of enrollment, are a diverse and motivated group of more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth campuses. The College strives to educate men and women who will have an important and ethical influence in the world, to improve educational practice, and to be recognized as a leading force in honors education nationwide.

Last Updated November 09, 2017