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USM Polymer Assistant Professor Wins Junior Faculty Award

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 08:58am | By: Van Arnold

Dr. Xiaodan Gu, assistant professor in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has been recognized with the prestigious Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) program.

These competitive research awards provide seed money for junior faculty members that often result in additional funding from other sources. The award amount provided by ORAU is $5,000. The applicant’s institution is required to match the award with at least an additional $5,000.

“I appreciate this recognition by ORAU because it would greatly expand the opportunities for our group and school of polymer science to foster closer collaboration with first-class scientists at the Oak Ridge National laboratory,” said Dr. Gu. “The Powe Award funding allows his research group to investigate neutron scattering in the application of optoelectronic materials for energy application.”

Oak Ridge Associated Universities provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest.

Eligibility for the Powe Awards is open to full-time assistant professors at ORAU member institutions within two years of their initial tenure track appointment at the time of application.

Research projects must fall within one of these five disciplines:

  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics/Computer Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy, Management, or Education

“Dr. Gu’s research group is working to measure, predict, and control physical property for optoelectronic polymers, a new kind of plastic materials that can conduct electricity. Those polymer are emerging as next generation materials used in OLED TVs.  Along this line, he aims for developing new form of electronics that are soft and flexible for potential application in renewable energy generation ( solar cell)  and wearable health care product (wearable sensors).

“Our hope is to one day produce lightweight, flexible and wearable electronics to replace silicon based electronics through low cost printing method. This would be very useful for bringing new job opportunities to the State of Mississippi,” he said.