Eight Researchers Received Awards for “Best Poster” during the Notre Dame-Purdue Symposium on Soft Matter and Polymers

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The 5th annual Notre Dame-Purdue Symposium on Soft Matter & Polymers was held October 6, 2018 on Notre Dame’s campus in McCourtney Hall. Drawing nearly one-hundred researchers from Notre Dame and Purdue, as well as from other area universities, this day-long event focused on topics related to the general synthesis and characterization of synthetic soft materials and their broad applications. 

This year’s event was co-organized by Haifeng Gao, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Matthew Webber, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, both at Notre Dame; and Jianguo Mei, assistant professor of organic chemistry, at Purdue. The guest speaker was Nathan Gianneschi, the Jacob & Rosaline Cohn Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science & Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering, and associate director of the International Institute of Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. Prof. Gianneschi presented “Making peptides into medicines: From enzyme-responsive nanomaterials to protein-like polymers”.

In addition to the talk by Dr. Gianneschi, faculty from other institutions gave the following presentations:  

  • "ND Energy overview" (Subhash L. Shinde, Center for Sustainable Energy, Notre Dame)
  • “Polymer/semiconductor electric double layer devices for computing and memory” (Alan Seabaugh, Electrical Engineering, Notre Dame)
  • “Organic electrochromics” (Jianguo Mei, Chemistry, Purdue)
  • “Rational design of polymeric barrier layers for metal-sulfur batteries” (Jennifer Schaefer, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Notre Dame)
  • “Molecular engineering of two-dimensional organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites” (Letian Dou, Chemical Engineering, Purdue)
  • “Recent progress of new synthetic capacities in the Gao group: From hyperbranched polymer to linear polymer” (Haifeng Gao, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Notre Dame)
  • “Cutting and the failure of hyperelastic polymer networks” (Shelby Hutchens, Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
  • “Biomaterials to control vascular morphogenesis and thrombosis” (Donny Hanjaya-Putra, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Notre Dame)
  • “Programmed DNA self-assembly” (Chengde Mao, Chemistry, Purdue)
  • “Ionic circuits based on nanoporous polymer membranes and nanopores: A new generation of molecular diagnostics” (Hsueh-Chia Chang, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Notre Dame)

After the presentations, the afternoon concluded with a poster session of related research topics presented by thirty-two associated graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from Notre Dame, Purdue, and Indiana University. Eight awards were given for “Best Poster”. The winners were:

  • Loan Bui, Notre Dame (“Engineering bioactive nanoparticles to rejuvenate progenitor cells” Loan Bui, Henry Davis, Kellen Round, and Donny Hanjaya-Putra) 
  • Saadia Chaudhry, Purdue (“Insight into redox and degradation pathways of donor/acceptor pi-conjugated oligomers” Saadia Chaudhry, David R. McMillin, and Jianguo Mei)
  • Jaeyub Chung, Purdue (“Interfacial tension and phase behavior of oil/aqueous systems with applications to enhanced oil recovery” Jaeyub Chung, Yung-Jih Yang, Huiling Tang, Marika Santagata, Bryan W. Boudouris, and Elias I. Franses) 
  • Hunter Ford, Notre Dame (“Crosslinked ionomer gel separators for polysulfide shuttle mitigation in magnesium-sulfur batteries: Elucidation of structure-property relationships” Hunter O. Ford, Laura C. Merrill, Peng He, and Jennifer L. Schaefer)
  • Feng Gao, Notre Dame (“Nanoporous charge-patterned mosaic membranes with controlled interfacial packing density for enhanced electrolyte transport” Feng Gao, Aaron Hunter, and William A. Phillip)
  • Longfei Liu, Purdue (“Programming DNA self-assembly without base pairing” Longfei Liu and Chengde Mao) 
  • Wei Zhao, Indiana University (“Supramolecular polymeric network towards stimuli-responsive materials” Wei Zhao, Josh Tropp, Bo Qiao, Jason Azoulay, and Amar Flood)
  • Lei Zou, Notre Dame (“Hydrogel photoswitching between supramolecular and covalent crosslinking nature” Lei Zou and Matthew Webber)

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Winners of the “Best Poster” awards with event organizers are from left to right: Wei Zhao (Indiana University), Professor Haifeng Gao* (Notre Dame), Professor Jianguo Mei* (Purdue), Longfei Liu (Purdue), Hunter Ford (Notre Dame), Professor Matt Webber* (Notre Dame), Lei Zou (Notre Dame), Loan Bui (Notre Dame), Feng Gao (Notre Dame), Jaeyub Chung (Purdue), and Saadia Chaudhry (Purdue)


The symposium was created in 2014 by Prof. Haifeng Gao and was first held at the University of Notre Dame. Since then, the symposium has evolved into an annual event sponsored jointly by Notre Dame and Purdue University. Prof. Gao’s vision for the symposium at the time of inception was to showcase research in soft materials – a growing area at Notre Dame – and to foster research collaborations across universities. This vision remains relevant and strongly supported today, as is evidenced by the increase in attendance and the continuing interest to develop new partnerships and collaborative opportunities with neighboring universities.

For more information about the 2018 symposium, view the Event Program or contact Heidi Deethardt, Center Coordinator at NDnano, at deethardt.1@nd.edu or 574-631-0279. 

The committee expresses its appreciation to the following sponsors from Notre Dame: College of Engineering, College of Science, Notre Dame Research, ND Energy, NDnano, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.