Seed Grant Recipients

The CSP invests in new initiatives and investigators to collaborate in critical areas of research through our seed grant program.
Contact CSP Director Marc Hillmyer for information on possible collaborations.

CURRENT RECIPIENTS

Michelle Calabrese

University of Minnesota

Professor Michelle Calabrese from the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science was funded for the project, “Sustainable rheological modifiers.” Plastic microbeads are widely used as rheological modifiers in consumer products, and are unregulated in many product categories. In this project, Professor Calabrese will develop biocompatible and biodegradable microbeads sourced from biomass as a sustainable alternative to synthetic rheological modifiers.

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Robert DiStasio

Cornell University

Professor Robert DiStasio, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University, was funded for the project “Rational design of high-density polyethylene with targeted physical properties via statistical modeling of molecular weight distributions”. In this project Professor DiStasio will focus on the development of a novel theoretical approach for correlating physical properties with molecular weight distributions in high-density polyethylene.

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Jennifer Dunn

Jennifer Dunn

Northwestern University

Professor Jennifer Dunn from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering was funded for the project, “Quantitative framework for cost and sustainability evaluation of emerging sustainable polymers.” In this project Professor Dunn will collaborate with three CSP Principal Investigators to develop techno-economic and life cycle analyses (TEA, LCA) of polymers under development and explore approaches to incorporating these analyses into CSP more broadly and develop a conceptual framework to quantify systems-level effects of new sustainable polymers.

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Jessica Lamb

University of Minnesota

Professor Jessica Lamb from the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry was funded for the project, “New routes to carbon dioxide-based polyurethanes.” In this work Professor Lamb seeks to leverage catalysis and mechanistic investigations to develop new methodologies to incorporate carbon dioxide into polyurethanes.

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Ian Tonks

University of Minnesota

Professor Ian Tonks from the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry was funded for the project, “Incorporation of carbon dioxide into bioderived polymer scaffolds.” In this work, Professor Tonks seeks to design new catalytic strategies for incorporating carbon dioxide into polymerizable lactone monomers.

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Boya Xiong

University of Minnesota

Professor Boya Xiong from the University of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering was funded for the project, “Assessing environmental degradation of single-use plastic: Insights into nano/microplastic formation via erosion of photoweathered plastic.” This project focused on elucidating key material properties that govern degradation rates and true environmental lifetime of end of life plastic wastes that is currently poorly defined.

 

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PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS

Christopher Alabi

Christopher Alabi

Cornell University

Professor Christopher Alabi from Cornell University’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering was funded for his project, “Sequence-controlled polyurethane dioxaborolane vitrimers.” In this work, Professor Alabi seeks to utilize precise-sequence control on a rigid polymer backbone to tune the bulk properties of a cross-linked polymer network, thereby modulating the mechanical response and reprocessability of the resulting polymer network.

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Christopher Ellison

University of Minnesota

Professor Christopher Ellison from the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science was funded for his project, “Multiblock copolymers for recycling polyolefin-polyester multilayer film.” Multi-layer films provide moisture and gas barrier properties and are used in large volumes in food packaging applications. Due to the inability to recycle materials comprised of more than one polymer, these materials are generally not recycled. In this project, Professor Ellison seeks to determine whether multiblock compatibilizers can be implemented to enable recycling of these films.

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Paul Dauenhauer

University of Minnesota

Professor Paul Dauenhauer from the UMN Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science was funded for his project, “Hybrid Process for Biorenewable Isoprene, Butadiene, and Styrene.” In this work, Professor Dauenhauer pursued a fundamental understanding of the role of cascade catalytic reactions in reducing carboxylic acid groups to alcohols, hydrogenation of C=C π-bonds, and dehydration of hydroxyl functional groups.

Paul Dauenhauer is now a CSP Senior Investigator.

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Mark Distefano

University of Minnesota

Professor Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, UMN Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, and Professor Mark Distefano, UMN Department of Chemistry, were funded to support their project “Engineering of Natural Rubber Biosynthesis”. This project focused on latex producing mushroom species to develop a microbial and biacatalytic in vitro production system for rubber.

Brett Fors

Brett Fors

Cornell University

Professor Brett Fors from Cornell University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology was funded for his project, “Functional polymers from itaconic acid.” Itaconic acid is a biorenewable feedstock that can be used to synthesize polymers of varying structures and functions. In this work, Professor Fors will collaborate with CSP researchers to develop catalyst systems for the reduction of itaconates to provide high value diols and lactones.

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Julia Kalow

Northwestern University

Professor Julia Kalow from Northwestern University’s Department of Chemistry was funded for her project, “Photochemical recycling: Photoactivated exchange of aromatic linkers for recyclable elastomers and thermosets.” In this work, Professor Kalow will pursue new repairable, recyclable cross-linked materials as well as fundamental insight into the photochemistry of polymers.

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Yiannis Kaznessis

Yiannis Kaznessis

University of Minnesota

Professors Kechun Zhang and Yiannis Kaznessis in the UMN Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science were funded for their project “Engineering Biosynthetic Pathways for Sustainable Production of Novel Polymer Monomers”. In their research these faculty address the great challenge of developing a biosynthetic approach to producing branched (ω-1)hydroxyacids.

Stuart Rowan

Stuart Rowan

University of Chicago

Professor Stuart Rowan from the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering and Department of Chemistry was funded for his project, “Investigations into sustainable cellulose nanocrystal nanocomposites.” Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are biorenewable, highly crystalline rod-like nanoparticles that can be used as a sustainable reinforcing nanofiller. In this project, Professor Rowan will investigate how to incorporate CNCs in current CSP work, to access high performance sustainable materials.

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Claudia Schmidt Dannert

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert

University of Minnesota

Professor Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, UMN Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, and Professor Mark Distefano, UMN Department of Chemistry, were funded to support their project “Engineering of Natural Rubber Biosynthesis”. This project focused on latex producing mushroom species to develop a microbial and biacatalytic in vitro production system for rubber.

Bess Vlaisavljevich

University of South Dakota

Professor Bess Vlaisavljevich from the University of South Dakota’s Department of Chemistry was funded for her project, “Ruthenium catalyzed decarbonylation chemistry.”  In this project she will collaborate with experimenatlists and focus on identifying which of the several ruthenium species likely present under experimental conditions catalyze the observed reactions.

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Kechun Zhang

Kechun Zhang

West Lake University

Professors Kechun Zhang and Yiannis Kaznessis in the UMN Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science were funded for their project “Engineering Biosynthetic Pathways for Sustainable Production of Novel Polymer Monomers”. In their research these faculty address the great challenge of developing a biosynthetic approach to producing branched (ω-1)hydroxyacids.

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