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Graduate Research Assistant Awarded for Work in Polymers

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Laurie Fickman
Vivek Yadav, left, with Dr. Chris Iacovella, session co-chair
Vivek Yadav, left, with Dr. Chris Iacovella, session co-chair

Vivek Yadav, studying for his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the Cullen College, earned third place for his presentation at the "Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research" session at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 2016 Annual Meeting held in San Francisco. AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineers with more than 50,000 members from over 100 countries.

The honorary session consisted of talks by graduate students working in the polymer field who have demonstrated excellence in chemical engineering research.

Yadav’s research involves polyelectrolyte brushes used in applications including drug delivery, enhanced oil recovery and antifouling coatings. The brushes change shape when exposed to solutions of varying pH, a fact that is known. What is unknown is how the brush length and dispersity affect pH response. Yadav identified three key trends in the response of the brushes to changes in pH.

“First, the thickness of dry brushes decreased as the pH was decreased,” said Yadav. “Second, the water contact angle measured at low pH increased with dispersity. Finally, disperse brushes acted on memory in the contact angle. Together, these results indicate that increasing brush dispersity significantly alters the pH-response.”

Yadav’s advisors are Jacinta C. Conrad, Ernest J. and Barbara M. Henley Associate Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Assistant Professor Megan Robertson.

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