Carnegie Mellon University
September 22, 2014

Department of Chemistry Student, Alumni Recognized at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society

By Amy Pavlak

Department of Chemistry Student, Alumni Recognized at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society

A graduate student and two Ph.D. alumni of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Chemistry were recognized at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society with more than 161,000 members. At the recent meeting in San Francisco, Saadyah Averick, Joanna Burdynska and Mingjiang Zhong were recognized for their outstanding research in polymer chemistry.

Alumnus Saadyah Averick (S’14) received the DSM Science and Technology Award, Americas 2014 from Royal DSM, a global life sciences and materials sciences company. The DSM Science and Technology Awards, which this year focused on “Innovative Polymer Solutions for Biomedical Applications,” seek to recognize and reward outstanding young researchers for innovative research with clear application potential. Averick received the award for his research on synthesizing functional bioconjugates using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). Working with his research advisor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, the J. C. Warner University Professor of Natural Sciences, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Subha Das, Averick used ATRP to create functional protein-polymer and DNA-polymer hybrid materials. These innovative bioconjugates are attractive for many biomedical applications including drug delivery and biosensors.

Joanna Burdynska, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate, received a Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize in the Advances in Controlled Radical Polymerization section. Burdynska took the honors for her poster, “Synthesis of Star-shaped Bottlebrushes with Molecular Spoked Wheel Core.” Working in the Matyjaszewski group, Burdynska used ATRP to create novel, six-armed star polymers by combining a molecular-spoked-wheel core and bottlebrush arms. The resulting well-defined structures resemble starfish. Her “starfish” polymers have numerous potential applications including as molecular tensile machines that focus mechanical tension on specific bonds.

Alumnus Mingjiang Zhong (S’13) was chosen as one of six finalists for the 2014 Eastman Chemical Student Award in Applied Polymer Science, a partnership between Eastman Chemical and the Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering Division of the ACS. The award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the field of polymers and materials research. Zhong, a postdoc at MIT and a former member of the Matyjaszewski group, was invited to present his research at the ACS meeting along with the five other finalists. The award winner will be selected based on the quality of his or her presentation. Zhong’s research explores approaches for synthesizing nanomaterials, specifically porous nanocarbon materials containing nitrogen. Nitrogen-enriched porous nanocarbons show promise for use in multiple applications including catalysis, gas purification, reversible CO2 capture and devices for energy storage and conversion.