Opportunity for Undergraduate Research Starting July 2024

The Boydston group has an opportunity available for 1 undergraduate research assistant for polymer synthesis and scale up, starting July 2024.

Research Topic/Tasks: Opportunity for an undergraduate student to do polymer synthesis and scale-up. We are studying how polymer network structure (e.g., crosslinking density) influences the mechanical and high strain rate performance of thermoset materials. Our research will enable a better fundamental understanding of structure-process-property relationships and lead to improved structural materials in applications such as bullet-proof plastics, composites, and high fracture toughness materials. Primary research tasks include polymer synthesis, characterization by NMR spectroscopy and gel permeation chromatography, and reactor design/scale-up. For more information on the synthesis, we recommend reading this paper.

Mentorship: The student will be trained and mentored one-on-one by a graduate student, who will work with them closely until they are comfortable and capable of completing work independently. Throughout the research appointment, mentors and mentees will meet at least weekly. Mentees will be taught safety protocols, lab techniques, experimental procedures, data analysis, and scientific processing. They will have the opportunity to present at subgroup meetings. Though not required, research excellence can lead to group meeting presentations, national and international conference participation, and/or publication in peer-reviewed journals. The PI, Prof. Boydston, asks to meet at least monthly with each mentee to discuss research progress, future goals, and how to best support the undergraduate team members.

Duties and Qualifications: Seeking a diligent, organized, and methodical student who has meticulous attention to detail. The project depends on reliable and reproducible production of specific polymers on a large scale (tens to hundreds of grams). Batch-to-batch reproducibility is critical. Researchers who are detail-oriented with a tendency to double-check their work will do well in this position. Open to chemistry and chemical engineering majors only. Must have taken at least CHEM 344 or a similar lab equivalent. Weekly time commitment is at least 20 hours per week for summer, and between 9-12 hours per week during fall/spring semesters. Ideal candidates will have at least 3 consecutive semesters available for research (summer 2024, fall 2024, spring 2025). Continuation on the research team is also possible by mutual agreement from the mentee and mentors. Will attend subgroup and group meetings if schedule allows. Must communicate availability and research plans to mentor. Can receive course credit and/or pay as determined mutually between the PI and mentee.

To Apply: Please complete this application by June 21, 2024 (1-page resume, unofficial transcript, why you are interested in this particular lab or research topic, and how you envision this research experience to help you with your personal or professional development goals).
If you have any questions about this position, please contact Brittany Trinh (btrinh2@wisc.edu). We encourage everyone to apply regardless of their GPA or research experience. Selected applicants will be invited for an in-person or virtual interview in early July.