Distinguished Lecture Series

Distinguished Lecture Series

Watch the Fall 2021 Distinguished Lecture

Synthetic Strategies to Afford Natural Product-Based Polymer Materials: Impacts on Sustainability, Life, Health and the Environment

A primary interest in the Wooley laboratory is the production of functional polymers from renewable sources that are capable of reverting to those natural products once their purpose has been served. A long-standing focus has been the development of synthetic methodologies that transform sugars, amino acids and other natural products into polymer materials.

This presentation highlights synthetic strategies for the development of polymers, block polymers and crosslinked network materials, which can be produced by relatively simple approaches from glucose and can be made to exhibit a range of properties. Target materials are designed for potential applications in diverse areas, from medicine, e.g., as nanotherapeutics or bioresorbable hemostatic agents, to the environment, e.g., as pollutant capture agents, climate-resilient hydrogel materials or naturally-degradable plastics. Examples highlight contributions that polymer chemistry can make toward bulk technological materials that are capable of impacting global needs, such as water, food, energy and health, and the grand challenges that must be solved in the coming decade.

About Karen Wooley

W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University

Karen L. Wooley holds the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and is a University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University, with appointments in the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering. She completed undergraduate study at Oregon State University (B.S., 1988), graduate study at Cornell University (Ph.D., 1993), and then spent the first sixteen years of her independent academic career on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. Nearly twelve years ago, she relocated to Texas A&M University (July 2009).

Karen's research interests include the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers derived from natural products, unique macromolecular architectures and complex polymer assemblies, and well-defined nanostructured materials, with an emphasis on the design and development of materials that address societal, medical, technological and/or environmental advances. Although 2020 was a challenging year for Karen’s family and many around the world personally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, professionally, her career thrived, with her being awarded Fellowship to the American Association of the Advancement of Science (2020), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2020), and the National Academy of Sciences (2020). She has recently been awarded a 2021 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Faculty Achievement Award and has been named the 2021 SEC Professor of the Year.

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