U.S.-India International Research Experience for Students (IRES) in Self-Assembling Stimuli-Responsive Biomimetic Polymers

Professor Sarah Morgan, University of Southern Mississippi School of Polymers & High Performance Materials (SPHPM) will launch a 3-year IRES program with Professor Veena Choudhary, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D), Center for Polymer Science & Engineering. The IRES builds on an existing collaboration between Morgan and Choudhary in nanomaterials and will allow US graduate and undergraduates to conduct research at IIT-D that focuses on the design of biomimetic stimuli-responsive self-assembling polymers for potential application in biomaterials or controlled release applications.

The collaboration involves the design of polymers for architectures capable of mimicking biological response through controlled radical polymerization techniques. This project combines IIT-D strengths in design and analysis of biomaterials with SPHPM expertise in controlled polymer synthesis, solution and surface analysis, and development of self-assembling polymeric structures. The investigators will explore two biomimetic systems- 1) the structural factors in synthetic biomimetic polymers that affect protein binding in polymers, and 2) the encapsulation and release behavior of pH-responsive polymersomes to determine self-assembling properties of polymers as a function of processing and environmental conditions. Web technology will facilitate the exchange of data and ideas, accelerate the research process, as well as the development of new materials for application in sensing and diagnostics.

This is a unique opportunity for under-represented groups at the University of Southern Mississippi to participate in international research at one of India's premier institutes of technology. US students participate in international research to a much lesser degree than students from other countries, and among minorities, there are significantly fewer participants. Apart from conducting laboratory research with IIT-D mentors, IRES students will experience a strong cultural program while in India and will have the opportunity to visit local polymer businesses along with research centers established by leading multinational companies in order to gain some appreciation of the global research enterprise.

Project Report

(IRES) provided international research exchange, cultural experience, and professional development for seven graduate students and six undergraduate students over a three year period. Students performed research under the direction of Prof. Veena Choudhary at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi). Doctoral students were at IIT Delhi for three months, undergraduate and MS students performed research at IIT Delhi for a period of one month. The students lived in dormitories on the IIT Delhi campus with Indian and international students, and took part in conferences, industry visits, and cultural visits. Students toured the GE Research Facility in Bangalore, and the Dupont Knowledge Center in Hyderabad, and presented at the Intertech Conference in Pune. On their return to the U.S. they presented their research and cultural experience to the research groups, the department, and to undergraduate and graduate students through ACS and Waterborne symposia. Two refereed journal publications have been published, and two more are in preparation. Twelve research presentations were made at national and international conferences. Two PhD students, one MSc student, and three undergraduate students have graduated with degrees in polymer science and engineering. Four PhD students and two undergraduate students are still pursuing their studies at USM. Graduate Positions: Air Force Research Labs NRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship Eastman Chemical Company Research Scientist Naval Research Laboratories Undergraduates: U. Florida PhD Program in Chemistry U. Massachusetts PhD Program in Polymer Science and Engineering U. California Santa Barbara PhD Program in Materials Science Publications: 1. Planchard, M.S.; Exley, S.E.; Morgan, S.E.; Rangachari, V. "Dopamine-induced alpha-synuclein oligomers show self-and cross-propagation properties" Protein Science, 2014, DOI: 10.1002/pro.252.1. 2. Paslay, L.C.; Abel, B.A.; Brown, T.D.; Koul, V.; Choudhary, V.; McCormick, C.L.; Morgan, S. E., "Antimicrobial Poly(methacrylamide) Derivatives Prepared via Aqueous RAFT Polymerization Exhibit Biocidal Efficiency Dependent upon Cation Structure" Biomacromolecules 2012, DOI: 10.1021/bm3007083, Publication Date (Web): June 27, 2012.

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