Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Chemical modifications of biological materials for bioplastics applications

Faculty PI:

Eleftheria Roumeli, Ph.D.

Immediate Mentor/Supervisor:

Paul Grandgeorge, Ph.D.

Project or Start-Up Company Name:

Chemical modifications of biological materials for bioplastics applications

Lab/Project Website:

Work Location:

Wilcox Hall, UW Seattle Campus

Work Hours (include recurring team meetings, special events, etc.):

Regular work week, Monday-Friday 9 AM – 5 PM

Overall Program Goal:

The large-scale production of fuel-based plastics, combined with limited fossil resources, urgently calls for design alternatives to produce environmentally friendly polymers. A recent trend to fabricate bio-based materials (using renewable feedstocks) consists in using unprocessed plant cells or tissues and shaping them into functional geometries using various processing methods to enable strong bonding. The resulting materials show promising mechanical performances, and our research group simultaneously follows two research axes: (i) further improve these material properties and (ii) understand the effect of each cellular constituent on the microstructure and macroscopic properties of the natural composites. In this project we aim to study a variety of chemical modifications to biomatter in an effort to vary the bonding motifs within the final bioplastics.

Intern Project Description and Responsibilities:

The successful summer intern will work with a Postdoc in the lab spaces of the Roumeli group. The student will fabricate samples following standardized procedures and test the mechanical properties, along with other material characterization technics such as Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy or thermogravimetric analysis.


Students should have completed material science classes, and preferably have hands-on experience or basic knowledge in organic or polymer chemistry.

Level of Independence:

This position will require a reasonably high level of independence.

Learning Opportunities:

The intern will learn to work safely in a laboratory and get hands-on experience on numerous fabrication and characterization apparatus. The student will strengthen their knowledge on the green chemistry and processing methods of biomatter.