Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Research in Polymer Chemistry

AU students William Horn and Anna Falls

Senior biochemistry major Anna Falls and junior chemistry major William Horn spent nine weeks of summer 2013 conducting research directed by Dr. Perry Corbin, Associate Professor of Chemistry.  They worked on the chemical synthesis of a class of polymers known as amphiphilic star block copolymers.  These polymers have a hydrophilic (water-loving) portion and a hydrophobic (water-hating) portion, and, as such, assemble in water to form aggregates much in the same manner as soap molecules.  The new block copolymers have the potential to serve as drug-delivery devices, with a hydrophobic drug fitting into the interior of the micelle and the hydrophilic portion allowing interaction with and transportation in water.

Anna reports, “I have worked in Dr. Perry Corbin's research lab since June 2011, where I work on making and analyzing new types of polylactide (PLA) polymers.  The polymers that we make are star shaped, which potentially varies their properties in comparison to traditional linear polymers.  We have also been able couple star PLAs with polyethylene glycol (PEG), and these copolymers can aggregate into micelles (small spheres) for potential use in drug delivery.”  Anna and Will plan to continue their research with Dr. Corbin during the academic year.  This work has been supported by the National Science Foundation as well as the College of Arts & Sciences and the Provost's Office.

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