Polymer News (2010)


NSF GK-12: Connections in the Classroom – Molecules to Muscles

PI: Morgan coPIs: Heinhorst (chemistry/biochemistry), Herron (biology), Wiggins (polymer science)
$2,344,900 over 5 years

The NSF GK-12 provides graduate fellowships to graduate students in polymer science and engineering, biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry. The program is designed to improve fellows’ communication, teaching and interdisciplinary research skills. Fellows will partner with high school teachers in local schools and develop curriculum enhancement activities to tie their research with the science curriculum. They will work with teachers to provide laboratory activities for the students, and will help develop science fair activities. Molecules to Muscles will relate research in biopolymers and synthetic polymers, from nutrition and muscle growth to advanced materials for sports equipment and protection of athletes and soldiers, to MS Science Curriculum Framework. The goal is to provide ‘real world’ application of science topics to issues important to high school students, while helping fellows develop strategies to communicate their results to an audience not composed of experts in their field.

2010-2011 Fellows:

  • Austin Baranek – Polymer Science
  • Bobby Cook – Polymer Science
  • Susan DeVries – Biological Sciences
  • Todd Hartlage – Polymer Science
  • Lauren Kucera – Polymer Science
  • Jake Ray – Polymer Science
  • Monica Watkins – Polymer Science

2010-2011 Lead Teachers:

  • James Brownlow – Hattiesburg HS
  • Charles Johnson – Forrest County AHS
  • Daniel Polon - HHS
  • Thelma Ratliff – FC AHS
  • Clara Short - HHS
  • Desshondra Walker - HHS
  • Ginger Wright – FC AHS

NSF: A Rapid Response Proposal for Mitigating the Deposition of Oil on Shores via Oil Anti-Deposition Strategies

PI: Lochhead coPIs: Morgan, Savin 
$149,955 over 1 year

When oil spills threaten shorelines dispersants are used to break up the oil into smaller droplets. This keeps the oil in deep water and helps to prevent it from washing ashore where there would be much greater environmental impact. However, oil still remains in the environment and washes ashore with devastating effects on wetlands, beaches and the wild-life thereon. In the current crisis, it is desirable to find ways to mitigate the effects on the coastline and on coastal wildlife, of the oil released from the Deepwater Horizon site. This project is an attempt to define nontoxic biodegradable treatments that would prevent the oil from adhering to coastal sand and soil, waterfowl, and wetlands plants. In order to respond to this emergency it is essential to reach out to technologies and materials that can be rapidly deployed at the appropriate scale and that can be applied in the environment with minimal impact on the ecology.

NSF REU Site: REU Site for Sustainable Aerospace and Marine Polymer Composites

PI: Daniel Savin coPI: Sarah Morgan 
$344,000 over 3 years

The NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site provides opportunities for undergraduate students to perform research with graduate students and faculty to introduce them to graduate level University research. Polymer composites are cutting edge materials that combine low weight with energy efficiency to create new developments in energy, aerospace, marine, electronic, automotive, sporting goods and biomedical applications. This summer we have over 20 REU participants from across the country doing research in all areas of composite development – including matrix synthesis, molecular characterization, materials testing and computational modeling for systems in solution, bulk, films and on surfaces.

NSF PFI: A Multinational Partnership to Incite Innovation Via New Generation Tailored Polymers at Interfaces

PI: R.Y. Lochhead coPIs: Wiesenberg, Morgan, Patton, Graben 
$600,000 over 3 years

The NSF awarded a $600,000, three year grant to the SPHPM, “A Multinational Partnership to Incite Innovation Via New Generation Tailored Polymers at Interfaces” (PFI). The program is directed by Dr. Robert Lochhead, director of SPHPM. Co-PI’s on the project are Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, Dr. Joe Graben, Dr. Sarah Morgan and Dr. Derek Patton. The PFI is a partnership between USM, Jones Junior College and industrial mentors ranging from local entrepreneurs to multinational corporations. The goal of the project is to accelerate the rate of discovery in polymer science through introduction of new tools and processes, and will be linked to expansion of research capabilities in The Garden. “We are very excited to embark on this partnership” says Lochhead, director of SPHPM. “The National Science Foundation funding will enable us to establish a sustainable industry/university partnership that will create new, high tech jobs in Mississippi.” The PFI will support graduate stipends, and industry partners will provide graduate and undergraduate internships.

Department of Education: Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program

PI: R.Y. Lochhead coPIs: Morgan, Patton 
$653,280 over 3 years

The SPHPM received an award from the U.S. Dept. of Education as part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. The department will receive $217,760 per year for three years for a total of $653,280 to support graduate stipends in polymer science and engineering for five U.S. students annually. The GAANN program will be directed by Prof.’s Robert Y. Lochhead, Derek Patton and Sarah Morgan. “We are delighted to receive this highly competitive award that will help us to attract and sustain highly qualified students from Mississippi and across the United States,” says Lochhead, director of the SPHPM. “Polymer Science and Engineering is recognized as an area of national need for economic, security and scientific growth and advancement.” The Southern Miss program focuses on students expressing interesting in teaching and research careers.

SPHPM Students receiving GAANN fellowships are:

  • Ryan Hensarling
  • Olivia McNair
  • Ashley Montgomery
  • Lea Paslay
  • Katherine Frank


A reception honoring the May 2010 graduates of The School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at The University of Southern Mississippi will be held at 3:00 p.m. Friday, May 14, 2010 in the Shelby F. Thames Polymer Science Research Center second floor atrium. Refreshments will be served. Graduation will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. at the M.M. Roberts Stadium.


In honor and celebration of Dr. Charlie Hoyle’s life and contributions, the Polymer Science program at USM is organizing a technical symposium. Speakers have been chosen by the Program Committee (Drs. Allan Guymon, Chris Bowman, Chris Miller) from a few of the many colleagues, students, and friends who have been touched by Charlie’s knowledge, excitement, and guidance. Topics will center on Charlie’s interests including polymer degradation, liquid crystals, photopolymerization, and ‘click’ chemistry. The program will include a reception and poster session on Sunday, April 11th, followed by a symposium, lunch, and dinner on April 12th, at our Polymer Science Research Center. Registration is $125 (student registration $60); due date for both registration and poster title with 200 word ACS style abstract is March 21, an absolute deadline for inclusion in the symposium booklet.


Robert Y. Lochhead of the University of Southern Mississippi will serve as the president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists’ 2010 board of directors. R. Randall Wickett, University of Cincinnati, is the vice president and Joseph Dallal, International Specialty Products, is the vice president-elect. The 2010 board was announced during the annual meeting, which was held December 10 and 11 in New York City. Also elected were: Christopher Heisig, Steris Corp., treasurer; Dawn Burke-Colvin, Mary Kay, Inc., secretary; Suellen Bennett, Croda, Inc., director, Area I; Peter Tsolis, Estee Lauder Companies, director, Area I; Dawn Thiel Glaser, Glenn Corporation, director, Area II; Kevin Tibbs, Better Life, director, Area II; Jacklin Vetkoetter, LF Beauty USA, director, Area III; Debbie Pierce, Cosmedx Science, director, Area III; Angela Eppler, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, director, Area IV; Samuel Cooper, Clariant Corporation, director, Area IV.


A statewide high school polymer science competition will be held at 8:00 am Friday, February 26, 2010 at The University of Southern Mississippi. The competition will be hosted by the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials. An expected 100-150 high school students, primarily juniors and seniors, from many schools throughout Mississippi will be in attendance. The main schools participating have a high school polymer science program, which exposes students to various areas of polymer science. Some of these areas include processing, CAD drawing, formulation and basic polymer chemistry knowledge.

The competition will include two testing sections, one individual and one team based. Demonstrations focused on polymer science applications and testing in combination with several departmental tours will be included during the day of activities. The participants will have the opportunity to view and discuss undergraduate and graduate student posters, giving them the opportunity to see firsthand the type of research common at Southern Miss in Polymer Science. A trophy will be awarded to the school earning the highest number of points. A netbook and iPod will be awarded to the highest point earning students.


Dr. Sarah Morgan honored with annual Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics Prize for 2010: The editors of the Journal of Polymer Science, Part B, Polymer Physics Edition are pleased to announce that the paper “Surface Energetics, Dispersion, and Nanotribomechanical Behavior of POSS/PP Hybrid Nanocomposites,” authored by Rahul Misra, Bruce X. Fu, and Sarah E. Morgan, was selected to receive the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics Prize for 2010. This prize is awarded annually to the best paper published in the journal and consists of an award of $2500 for the authors of the paper and travel expenses for the authors to the March Meeting of the American Physical Society.

The selection process for the award is rigorous. The total number of papers considered was over 500 manuscripts published in JPSB from September 1, 2007 to August 31, 2009. The award will be presented at the JPSB editorial board and best paper award dinner that will be held during the March meeting of the American Physical Society.