Matt Golder receives NSF CAREER Award

Submitted by Diana Knight on

Assistant Professor Matthew Golder has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Professor Golder applies his expertise in organic synthesis and polymer chemistry to build novel macromolecular architectures that address challenges spanning energy, sustainability, and biomedicine. The discovery of structural motifs spanning a variety of size regimes requires innovative approaches to construct and link functional building blocks. Some representative goals of the Golder research team include the design of methodology to access functional cyclic polymers, reconfigurable thermoplastics & thermosets, upcycled commodity polyolefins, and force-responsive soft materials.

Professor Golder’s NSF CAREER proposal, “CAREER: Design Principles for Controlled Cyclic Polymer Synthesis,” aims to develop and implement new transition-metal initiators to access cyclic polymers in a more controlled manner. Unlike most plastics encountered in everyday life that are made up of flexible polymer chains with well defined “start” and “end” points (consider how a piece of cooked spaghetti looks), cyclic polymers are completely devoid of these chain ends. As a result, cyclic polymers have fascinating physical, mechanical, and thermal properties that are not found in more traditional plastics. Cyclic polymers are currently being explored as potential candidates for next-generation of drug-delivery agents, conductive materials, and thermoplastic resins. The synthesis of cyclic polymers in high purity and large quantities remains a challenge in polymer chemistry because current methodologies typically yield mixtures of linear and cyclic macromolecules which are difficult to separate. This work will advance both the synthesis and characterization of these fascinating polymeric materials.

In addition to the scientific goals, this project aims to increase broadening participation and enable training of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in synthetic polymer chemistry. Efforts will include an outreach program titled “Husky at Home Science” to reach and engage homeschooled students across the state of Washington via the development of a virtual hands-on program and children’s storybook centered around polymer science.

For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.

For more information about Professor Golder and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.