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Kartik Kumar Rajagopalan and Xiuzhu Zhu stand next to each other outside next to a building.
Kartik Kumar Rajagopalan and Xiuzhu Zhu won the 2021 Spring Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering’s best poster award. | Image: Dharmesh Patel/Texas A&M Engineering

Kartik Kumar Rajagopalan and Xiuzhu Zhu, graduate students in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, were named winners of the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering’s (PMSE) best poster award for spring 2021. 

PMSE is a division of the American Chemical Society.

Winners were chosen by judges appointed by the PMSE executive committee from a pool of student candidates who presented their posters at the Spring 2021 American Chemical Society National Meeting.

Rajagopalan, a doctoral student, joined the department from industry where he worked for seven years developing coatings for the oil, gas and heavy machinery markets. His research focuses on developing temperature-responsive polymer systems for shape stabilization of inorganic phase change materials and studying dynamic covalent polymer networks.

"This was the first time doing a poster presentation on an online platform and we were looking for guidance," said Rajagopalan. "And so, we would really like to thank our advisor Dr. Sukhishvili, who gave us valuable tips for preparing the poster and presenting it.”

Zhu, a second-year master’s student, joined the department upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in applied chemistry from the South China University of Technology. Her research focuses on using polymers to shape-stabilize inorganic phase change materials. 

They presented a poster titled “Temperature-responsive, Tunable Poly (Vinyl Alcohol) -Borax Salogels for Shape Stabilization of an Inorganic Phase Change Material.”

Rajagopalan and Zhu are under the supervision of Dr. Svetlana Sukhishvili, materials science and engineering professor and director of the Soft Matter Facility.

"I would like to thank our advisor Dr. Sukhishvili who encouraged us to participate in the poster presentation and my coworker Kartik,” said Zhu. “Without them, I could not have achieved this."