The Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering

The  Department of Macromolecular Science is a major educational and research strength of  Case Western Reserve University, with activities in all areas of polymer science and engineering. It was founded in 1963 as the first department for education and research in polymers in the nation and also has the first accredited undergraduate program in the United States.


The activities of our department continue to reflect the exciting national and international developments in the polymer field. Polymers represent the major component of the chemical industry and are fundamental to the manufacture of plastics, fibers, rubber and elastomers, composites, coatings, adhesives, films, and biomaterials. Polymer research at CASE has traditional strength in structure-property relationships, which lead to knowledge for modification of properties and the development of new products. Recently, the department has emphasized the development of new functional polymers with unique properties including proton or electron-conduction, photoluminescent, or optical switching characteristics.  These are the key to future applications in fuel cells or as sensors and molecular computers.  As a result, students come to understand the importance of the systematic approach of polymer science and engineering by understanding, controlling, and tailoring properties. These diversified areas of expertise are coordinated in several  centers in the department.


The department now has 16 full-time faculty which comprises nine full professors, two associate professors, and one assistant professor as well as four active emeritus professors. Research collaboration among faculty members with diversified backgrounds is very active, consisting of Ph.D. degrees in Polymer Science, Chemical Engineering, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Biophysics. Biopolymer research is also emphasized, offering a M.D./Ph.D. degree program in cooperation with the medical school. In addition, the Department has 16 associated, adjunct, and research faculty from other CWRU departments (including Chemistry, Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Pathology) as well as from industry and other academic institutions. The annual funding of individual faculty members is one of the highest in the nation, resulting in superior research activity. Currently, there are 13 post-doctoral research associates and scholars working in our research laboratories.  We currently employ 15 administrative staff and one technical staff member. In addition, the Department has 48 graduate students while 32 undergraduate students are registered for the B.S. or B.S./M.S. in Engineering (major field: Polymer Science and Engineering).

Research Funding

Research expenditures for the department total approximately $3.8 Million from a combination of federal, state and industrial sources. This support comes in the form of grants and contracts to individual faculty and from large-scale funding through multi-investigator research centers. Several exciting new directions in research have been initiated during the past fiscal year.


The department is housed in an architecturally attractive, progressive  building with approximately 90,000 square feet of total space encircled by a spacious garden. The building is tailored to the logistical and mechanical needs of the department's individual  laboratories and  centers. Frontiers of research include biological materials, mechanical analysis of polymers, polymer and composite processing, polymer synthesis, fracture mechanics, electron and optical microscopy, molecular spectroscopy, research computing, polymer microdevices, thermal analysis, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and imaging, and X-ray structure analysis.

The depth and diversity of faculty experience in polymer research, including synthesis, physical characterization, structure-property relationships, theoretical modeling, polymer processing, and materials development balanced with the new, state-of-the-art facilities provides a catalyst for graduates and undergraduates to excel in today's global challenge to push forward the frontiers of polymer science and engineering. As 70% of all graduates in the chemical sciences are employed in some aspect of polymer production, demand for polymer scientists and engineers provides superb job opportunities. The graduates of our program find attractive jobs in large and small companies, governmental institutions, and the nation's prime universities and colleges.