General Information

Are you ready to explore all those materials science concepts you learned in the classroom?  The faculty in the Clemson University College of Engineering and Science believe that undergraduates can and do make important contributions to the field of materials science through their creativity and research.  They also believe that working in a research laboratory can be a transformative experience and helping people decide if attending graduate school is the right option for them.

This program (the Interfaces and Surfaces Research Experience for Undergraduates) .  This program accepts around 10 students each summer.  During the ten week program, participants will conduct research, learn professional development skills and work with a diverse team of researchers.  We are extremely proud of our faculty mentors- they have each shown a track record of successfully mentoring undergraduate students and are from many departments including Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry.   The program is lead by Drs. Marian (Molly) Kennedy and Delphine Dean and hosted by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Our Support

Financial support for this program came from the National Science Foundation  Division of Materials Research (Award number: 1460863) and the Clemson University Department of Materials Science and Engineering for the 2015-2017 summers.

Recent achievements by past participants. Click on the toggle to read about their presentations and publications.

Carley Tysinger (REU 2015) presenting her work at ACS!

Carlie is presenting her work at the 2016 ACS meeting!

Abstract below.

Characterization of Nanofoam Collapse in Response to Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds

  1. Tysinger1, N. Borodinov2, B. Zdyrko2, A.P. Soliani2, Y. Galabura2, J. Giammarco2, I. Luzinov2

1Department of Chemistry, Catawba College, 28144

2School of Materials Science and Engineering, Clemson University, 29634

Nanofoams are porous grafted polymer film layers that exhibit the performance of shape-memory polymer materials (SMPs). The surface of silicon wafers were used as a substrate and poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) was employed as an anchoring polymer layer via dip coating followed by the sequential attachment of the polymers polystyrene (PS) and poly(2-vinyl pyridine) (P2VP) respectively, leading to the formation of a three component polymer nanofoam. The nanofoam was obtained by freeze-drying where polymer films are swollen in chloroform and cooled under vacuum pressure (20-50 mTorr) to sublimate the solvent. The thickness of the nanofoam layers were analyzed using refractive index values collected from a home-built scanning reflectometer before and after nanofoam exposure to one of three volatile organic compounds, including toluene, methanol and acetone, for 40 minutes in a controlled environment. The initial results showed a statistically significant correlation between collapse upon exposure to a particular solvent and its composition. However, external factors that influence collapse of nanofoam with given composition in a specified solvent are yet to be identified. Results of nanofoam collapse upon specific exposure events will lead to future use in industry as sensors to detect chemical warfare agents. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation’s REU program under grant number 1460863, the Clemson University Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (projects HDTRA1-10-1-0101 and HDTRA1-13-1-0001).

Congratulations to Patrick Ayrle (2015 REU)- his work is being presented at the 2016 Membrane Technology Conference

Patrick’s work is being presented this February!


Partlan, E.; Amaral, P.; Li, M.; Ayerle, P.; Ladner, D.A. “Membrane Filtration of Colloidal Activated Carbon: Considerations for Optimization of Head Loss Reduction and Small Molecule Adsorption.” Membrane Technology Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, TX, February 2016.

Leslie Sanders (REU 2015) presented work at the 2015 Fiber Society Conference

Leslie Sanders presented a poster entitled: ‘Mechanical Characterization of Lepidoptera Proboscises Through Tensile Testing’ at the  Fiber Society 2015 Fall Meeting and Technical Conference on October 28–30, at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

Well done!