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CAU x CSP: PREC for Sustainable Polymers

The Department of Chemistry at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) aspires to become a leading provider of chemistry education and research that attracts and prepares diverse students to be scientifically literate and competitive professionals to meet the future demands of the changing global environment. Expanding the current partnership between the CAU Department of Chemistry and the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) through the Partnership in Research and Education in Chemistry (PREC) will support this goal. This partnership will increase the diversity of researchers designing, preparing, processing, and implementing polymers derived from renewable resources, made using the principles of Green Chemistry, and with sustainable end of use opportunities for a wide range of advanced applications that promote future economic development, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability. The PREC will expand the opportunities for African American students to broaden their educational experience and conduct cutting-edge research in the chemistry, characterization, and processing of sustainable polymers. The PREC will immerse African American students in multi-institutional collaborative research projects involving teams comprising faculty and students from CAU and CSP partner institutions.

Interdisciplinary PREC Team Areas

IPT 1: Biomass Valorization

This project will develop porous green crystalline framework catalysts: metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and covalent organic frameworks (COFs) for sustainable biomass valorization to polymer feedstocks. We will prepare robust multifunctional catalytic systems, establish systematic design principles while applying green mechanochemical synthesis.

IPT 1 Investigators: Xinle Li, Conrad Ingram, Dinadayalane Tandabany, Paul Dauenhauer, William Dichtel, Bess Vlaisavljevich

IPT 2: Cellulose Nanocrystal Composites

This project aims to develop 100% bio-based biodegradable composites that compete with nonsustainable petroleum-based composites based on performance and cost. This project builds on our collective success in preparing cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) with a range of sizes, aspect ratios, and surface modification to facilitate their incorporation in a polymer matrix melt processing to integrate CNCs in PLA, modifying PLA and other biodegradable polyesters to enhance degradation while maintaining properties and assessing biodegradability.

IPT 2 Investigators: Eric Mintz, Issifu Harruna, Seyhan Salman, Chris Ellison, Marc Hillmyer, Stuart Rowan

IPT 3: Renewable Polymers

The Department of Energy has classified furans as a “top ten chemical opportunity from biorefinery carbohydrates”. As a result, a spike in research on furan-based monomers has occurred. Most of the focus has centered on difunctional monomers for step-growth condensation polymerizations. These methods have produced promising polyesters but do not offer the same control as controlled chain growth processes that allow for precision macromolecular synthesis and thus tunable properties. 

IPT 3 Investigators:, Ishrat Khan, Issifu Harruna, Brett Fors, Theresa Reineke, Jessica Lamb

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Saber Alyoubi
Graduate Researcher
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Zakiya Barnes
Graduate Researcher
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Allea Campbell
Graduate Researcher
Paul Dauenhauer
PREC Investigator
William Dichtel
PREC Investigator
Chris Ellison
PREC Investigator
Brett Fors
PREC Investigator
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Issifu Harruna
PREC Director, Investigator
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Marc Hillmyer
PREC Investigator
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Conrad Ingram
PREC Investigator
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Ishrat Khan
PREC Investigator
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Jessica Lamb
PREC Investigator
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Xinle Li
PREC Investigator
Eric Mintz
PREC Investigator
Theresa Reineke
PREC Investigator
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Stuart Rowan
PREC Investigator
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Seyhan Salman
PREC Investigator
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Aanesa Watson
Graduate Researcher
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Jane Wissinger
PREC Investigator
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Bess Vlaisavljevich
PREC Investigator


The PREC actively integrates research, innovation, education, broadening participation, and informal science communication. In that regard, PREC provides unique research experiences for researchers in which students are immersed in collaborative research environments.

Undergraduate Students

Any undergraduate student at a participating institution can reach out to an investigator to see if they have opportunities to conduct research in their groups. Undergraduate students can also apply to any seasonal opportunities listed here.

Graduate Students

Graduate students at participating institutions should inquire directly with investigators about joining their groups to conduct research.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Those interested in postdoctoral research opportunities should directly contact the investigator most aligned with their research interests.


PREC Institutions


For any inquiries please send us an email. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Clark Atlanta University
223 James P. Brawley Drive, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30314