DISSERTATION DEFENSE & GRADUATION: NICOLE SWANSON
On August 26, Nicole Swanson successfully defended her PhD thesis: Polybutadiene Graft Copolymers as Coupling Agents in Rubber Compounding. Nicole was part of a team led by Professors Coleen Pugh and Sadhan Jana, and at separate times, his students Kushal Bahl, Prasad Raut and Hamad Albehaijan. Nicole provided the synthetic expertise for developing coupling agents based on polybutadiene grafted with polypentafluorostyrene, which provides perfluoroarene groups to interact with electron-rich aromatic rings on carbon black and lignin, and copolymer grafts of pentafluorostyrene and trialkoxysilane-functionalized styrenes, which can react with silica fillers. The PB-g-PPFS coupling agents improved the strength and rolling resistance indicator in lignin-filled rubber, and improved the cure rate and rolling resistance indicator in CB-filled rubber. The styrenetrialkoxysilane-based coupling agents require further development. Nicole is thrilled to be starting her new job at C.G. Bretting Manufacturing in her hometown of Ashland, WI. Nicole will officially graduate in December 2016 with a PhD in Polymer Science from The University of Akron.