Boydston Group Postdoc Positions

The Boydston Research Group focuses on fundamental polymer synthesis, polymer mechanochemistry, new chemical platforms for additive manufacturing, and integration of stimuli-responsive materials into additive manufacturing. As we move to the University of Wisconsin in late summer 2018, we will open three postdoctoral positions. The preferred areas of interest include: 1) metal-free ring opening metathesis polymerization via photoredox catalysis, 2) design and study of flex activated mechanophores, and 3) chemistry and engineering of digital light processing additive manufacturing. Descriptions of general expectations, recommended experience, and project details are below.

General Expectations of Group Members. The Boydston Research Group strives to be an inclusive environment for intense, collaborative, creative scientific research. We enjoy and celebrate individual contributions while also working with expanded teams from various departments, universities, government research labs, and outreach programs. A major emphasis is placed on students and postdocs maturing to become independent scientific leaders and excellent stewards of their fields. Group members are expected to challenge and support one another in all aspects of the program. Sharing of discoveries, vetting of ideas, testing of hypotheses, writing papers, preparing proposals, and giving presentations are all done openly with the aim of learning from each person’s unique perspective and expertise.

Metal-Free Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization (MF-ROMP). In 2015, we discovered a method for using one-electron oxidation of vinyl ethers to facilitate ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) of norbornene monomers. Until that discovery, ROMP had only been reported to proceed via metal-alkylidene intermediates. With the vinyl ether initiator approach, we enabled the first disclosure of “metal-free” ROMP. The unique polymerization mechanism offers exciting opportunities for mechanistic studies, and photoredox catalysis has been a successful avenue for MF-ROMP thus far. Moving forward, we hope to better understand the complete kinetic profile of initiation, propagation, and reversible deactivation events; the interplay between initiator (or chain end) structure and photoredox catalyst reactivity as it influences the ability to control polymer molecular weight and dispersity; and how one can achieve broader functional group compatibility with MF-ROMP. The expectation is that researchers with interest and experience in catalysis, kinetics, electro-organic chemistry, general mechanistic studies, photophysics, or some combination thereof would be well-suited to contribute on this effort. Specific experience in polymer chemistry may be helpful but is not required.

Flex Activated Mechanophores. Mechanophores are molecular moieties that undergo prescribed bond making or breaking events in response to mechanical force. Briefly, mechanical stress can be converted into molecular level geometric distortions (mechanical strain) that augment the potential energy surface of the mechanophore. Although more complex than this, the geometric distortions that give rise to bond breaking events can superficially be categorized into bond stretching (very common motif for mechanophore
design) and bond bending (less common motif for mechanophore design). The latter we refer to as being “flex activated” in contrast to the former, “stretch activated.” Flex activated mechanophores can be designed to release small molecules upon activation and can
do so without requiring chain scission in the polymer backbone. To help realize the full potential of these mechanophores, we aim to investigate the physical organic parameters that govern mechanophore reactivity. We are currently investigating a series of flex activated mechanophores that will enable fine-tuning of specific thermodynamic and kinetic parameters. With these systems, we will explore mechanistic hypotheses through a combination of computational modeling, materials synthesis, mechanical testing, and quantitative analysis of mechanophore activation. The expectation is that researchers with interest and expertise in soft materials, organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, mechanochemistry, stimuli-responsive materials, or some combination thereof would be wellsuited to contribute to our efforts.

New Chemical Approaches to Additive Manufacturing (AM). Our AM team focuses on developing unique chemical approaches to address challenges in the production of multimaterial parts, integration of stimuli-responsive build materials, and access to complex object geometries via AM. Our research efforts require a combination of custom organic synthesis, formulations chemistry, printer design (custom builds and optimization), mechanical analyses, soft matter characterization, and multi-scale modeling. Our team
collaborates with many other experts in the field and researchers are exposed to a broad range of disciplines. Our short-term goals are to simultaneously push the boundaries of chemical reactivity relevant to AM and cutting-edge AM equipment capabilities. A major
emphasis is placed on discovering methods for vat photopolymerization that enable incorporation of multiple materials combinations into a single printed part, in a single AM session. This program will benefit from researchers having interest and expertise in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, and polymer chemistry. Considering the broad, multidisciplinary nature of the program, we encourage applicants spanning a similarly broad background of training.

How to Apply. Send the following materials via email:

  1. a cover letter that briefly describes your background and near-term goals
  2. an updated CV
  3. a three to five page summary of your research accomplishments
  4. the names of three references willing to submit a letter of recommendation upon request.

The anticipated start date range is Aug 15 – Dec 31, 2018 (flexible). Inquiries prior to applying are also welcome.