July 18, 2018

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Kessler Becomes Director of School of Mechanical, Materials Engineering at Washington State University

KesslerPULLMAN, Wash. – Michael Kessler has been named Berry Family director of Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.He comes to WSU from Iowa State University where he was a professor of materials science and engineering.

“This is a critical time for the school, as we are dramatically growing our programs and increasing the number of engineering graduates in the state,” said Candis Claiborn, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. “I am confident that Dr. Kessler’s leadership style and expertise are the right fit for this important position.’’

Kessler conducts research in the mechanics, processing and characterization of polymer matrix composites and nanocomposites and has brought in more than $10 million in research funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. He is a former associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

His research areas include multifunctional- and nano-composites, materials with self-healing functionality, development of new manufacturing techniques for polymer composites and evaluation of these materials using experimental solid mechanics techniques and thermal analysis.

His work spans the fields of organic chemistry, applied mechanics and processing science.Among a number of honors, he received a Young Investigator Award from the Army Research Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, as well as an NSF CAREER award.He has published more than 90 peer reviewed journal articles, holds six patents and has presented more than 100 talks at national and international meetings.

Kessler holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from LeTourneau University and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

[WSU Press Release]


Pardon me, but there’s a bioplastic in my froyo


photo credit: timlewisnm via photopin cc

Research conducted by the Biopolymers & Biocomposites Research Team was featured in Iowa Science Interface, a blog that highlights science developments in Iowa. The post also included the announcement of the proposed Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites. More >>

Self-healing materials research featured on CNN

CNN recently highlighted efforts to commercialize self-healing materials based on the research and development work which began years ago while Prof. Kessler was at the University of Illinois.   The site includes a scanning electron microscope image showing a ruptured microcapsule contained in a self-healing epoxy.



Iowa State team, led by Grewell and Kessler, wins grant for new bioplastics center

logo_retA new center that will research bioplastics and biocomposites is getting a boost from a planning grant from the National Science Foundation.  Read more in the Plastics News Report here.

The center, dubbed CB2, will conduct research that promotes industry-wide acceptance of biobased plastics and composites and increases the use of sustainable materials. Projects will look at all aspects in the development of biobased plastics including feedstock logistics; synthesis and compounding of materials; and economic and environmental analysis of new products.

NSF will provides management expertise and matching funds for the first five years with the potential for additional funding.

For information on CB2, see www.cb2.iastate.edu..



Work featured on front cover of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering

Congratulations to Prashanth Badrinarayanan, Hongchao Wu, Mark Rogalski, and the rest of the research team whose work on epoxy composites reinforced with negative thermal expansion nanofiller zirconium tungstate is featured on the front cover of the February 2013 edition of the journal Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.


Two group members awarded NASA fellowships


Congratulations to graduate students Eliseo De León and Mitch Rock for winning National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research fellowships through the Iowa Space Grant Consortium program.  More information is available in an article in ISU’s INNOVATE online magazine (NASA story).

Polymer Composites Research Group members featured in MRS TV

A new video highlighting the Materials Science and Engineering program at Iowa State University is being displayed at the 2012 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting and Exhibit in Boston, MA.  The MRS TV program features interviews by PolyComp graduate student Eliseo De Leon, Professor Kessler, and shows footage of postdoctoral associate Mahendra Thunga, graduate student Danny Vennerberg, and undergraduate assistant Ryan Hall making low cost carbon fiber from lignin.

Antibacterial biobased coatings research featured

Our research on biobased coatings with antibacterial properties was recently published in ChemSusChem and featured in CCUR’s September-October newsletter.

Ying Xia, postdoctoral research associate in materials science and engineering (right), shows Zongyu Zhang, graduate student in food science and human nutrition, a cationic polymer liquid dispersion used in casting soybean oil-based antibacterial coatings.


Carbon fiber research highlighted in CM Magazine

Fibers produced from melt spinning of lignin/PLA blends

Our research on developing low-cost carbon fibers from lignin was featured in the September-October issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine as one of “six projects conducted on three continents that could one day affect billions of people.”  Read more on page 16 of the article “Game-Changing Research“.  Our research on this topic was also featured in the Center for Crops Utilization Research Newsletter article titled “Research Team is Developing Biobased Carbon Fibers for Wind Turbine Blades.”  Congratulations to Mahendra Thunga, Keke Chen, and the rest of the team on this publicity.

Professor Kessler receives NASA Iowa Space Grant award

Professor Kessler was presented with the NASA Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) Research Recognition Award at the ISGC’s annual meeting in July 2012.  You can read more about this award and the related Iowa NASA EPSCoR project in the August 2012 issue of the ISGC newsletter.

Sharron Quisenberry, vice president for research and economic development at Iowa State University and ISU presidential representative, presents the Iowa Space Grant Consortium Research Recognition Award to Michael Kessler at the Consortium’s annual meeting in Marshalltown.