Major Areas of Interest and Research



Living systems are composed primarily of macromolecules, and research is in progress on several projects of medical relevance. The department has a long-standing interest in the structure and properties of the components of connective tissues (e.g., skin, cartilage, and bone). The department is also engaged in the development of new polymers for application as biomaterials.

Fire Science and Engieering

Explore and learn how to apply the fundamental principles of fire behavior and dynamics, protection and suppression systems, polymeric materials structure, properties and selection, and more. Learn more about this new degree focus now.

Materials Development and Design

Often, newly conceived products require the development of polymeric materials with certain specific properties or design characteristics. Materials can be handpicked or tailor-made to yield the best performance under specified conditions. Examples might be the design of permselective membranes for use in kidney dialysis, polymers that are stable at high temperatures for fire-retardant construction materials, and even high-strength nonreactive polymers for use as biological implants. Specialty polymers for chemical and physical sensors.

Mechanical Behavior and Analysis

Polymeric materials are known for their unusual mechanical capabilities, usually exploited as components of structural systems. Analysis includes the study of viscoelastic behavior, yielding and fracture phenomena and a variety of novel irreversible deformation processes.

Physical Characterization

This is the broad area of polymer analysis, which seeks to relate the structure of the polymer at the molecular level to the bulk properties that determine its actual or potential applications. This includes characterization of polymers by infrared, Raman, and NMR spectroscopy, thermal analysis determination of structure and morphology by x-rays and electron microscopy, and investigation of molecular weights and conformation by light scattering.


A major concern of industry is the efficient and large scale production of polymer materials for commercial applications. Research in this area is focusing on reactive processing and polymer mixing, i.e., compounding and blends.


Polymer rheology is an important branch of polymer science. Flow behavior of a variety of polymeric systems are under investigation. A distinct emphasis has been on melt rheology at high stress/rate and melt flow instabilities, fracture and interfacial rheological phenomena.


New and novel types of macromolecules including liquid crystalline polymers and biopolymers, are being made in the department's synthesis laboratories.