Summer Undergraduate Research Experience
Research opportunities in polymers, catalysis, enzyme engineering, and data science at the Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI). Experience in chemical conversion strategies and enabling cross-cutting tools to address the global problem of plastics waste.
Are you interested in joining the CPI Summer Program in 2024? Click the button below to submit your contact information and receive the latest updates, announcements, and application reminders for the 2024 program!
Applications for Summer 2024 are NOW OPEN!
Application priority date: February 15, 2024
- Research projects with graduate student, postdoc, and faculty mentorship
- Research seminars
- Professional development workshops
- Industry and government lab site visits
- Counseling on STEM academic careers
- Interdisciplinary research symposium
- 10-week, full-time summer research experience
- $6,000 stipend for each student
- University housing supplement for external applicants
- Applications open: December 1, 2023
- Application priority date: February 15, 2024
2024 Research Topics
- Functionalizing plastics using organo-catalysis. Kayser Research Group | University of Delaware
- Catalysts for circulating polyamide waste to monomers. Liu Research Group | University of Delaware
- Computational approaches to catalyst-polymer interactions. Bai Research Group | University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Electrocatalytic polymer degradation. Hernández-Pagán & Rosenthal Research Groups | University of Delaware
- Discovery of PE-degrading enzymes. Solomon Research Group | University of Delaware
- Hybrid plasma and biological degredataion of polyolefins. Blenner & Vlachos Research Groups | University of Delaware
- Discovery of enzymes for depolymerizing polyamides and polyurethanes. Blenner & Solomon Research Groups | University of Delaware
- Confinement-enhanced depolymerization of polymers. Lee Research Group | University of Pennsylvania
Pandemic Contingency: Please keep in mind that although we are planning for a fully in-person experience in 2024, we continue to monitor the status of the pandemic. We will follow campus and State of Delaware recommendations to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and local community. Applicants must be prepared to comply with University of Delaware COVID-19 requirements for campus visitors. Thank you for prioritizing public safety alongside us.
Industrial Site Visits
Several off-campus trips take students to regional industrial and national lab sites including Under Armour, ExxonMobil, NIST, and DOW.
Summer Workshop Series
Weekly workshops instruct students on effective literature search methods, develop their presentation skills in a variety of settings, and introduce them to leaders in the scientific fields.
Students present their summer projects at the University of Delaware’s Undergraduate Research symposium.
Highlights from 2023 Summer Program
Meet the Team:
Xiomaris Báez-Santiago | University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez | Sophomore | Chemistry
Joshua Bryan | University of Delaware | Junior |
Devin Cummings | University of Delaware | Sophomore | Computer Science
Alondra Diaz Peña | University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras | Sophomore | Chemistry
Jaylen Harrision | University of Delaware | Freshman | Chemical Engineering
Evan Phillips | University of Florida| Sophomore | Material Science & Engineering
Caroline Zu | Purdue University | Sophomore | Chemistry
- Two-dimensional (2D) mesoporous zeolite-based catalysts for plastics recycling
- Development of biocatalytic cascade for the valorization of plastic deconstruction products
- Surface plasmon-assisted proactivation of nitrile functional groups
- Enabling plastics research through database construction and design
- Discovery and characterization of polyethylene degrading microbes from the gut of the yellow mealworm
- Post-polymerization functionalization of PMMA
- Effect of plasma oxidation on plastics degradation by the yellow mealworm and their gut microbes
Highlights from 2022 Summer Program
Meet the Team:
Mike Axiotes | University of Delaware | Sophomore | Biochemistry
Joseph Castaneda | CUNY – City College of New York | Sophomore | Chemical Engineering
Lorenz Cushman | University of Utah | Junior | Material Science Engineering
Harrison Goehrig | Bucknell University | Sophomore | Chemical Engineering
Jack Granite | University of Delaware | Senior | Chemical Engineering
Daniel Nakamura | University of Rochester | Junior | Chemistry
Lauren Smith | Delaware State University | Sophomore | Enviromental Science
- Breaking down plastics using chemical catalysis and enviornmental microbial communities from plastic enriched soils
- Biocatalytic approaches to valorize products of polymer deconstruction
- Upcycling plastics waste to reject per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from water
- Cutting cost and waste: support screening for Ni-based catalyts in polyethylene hydrogenolysis
- Biodegradation of different plastics using microbes from mealworms
- Upcycling of plastic waste via organo-catalyzed synthesis
- Sustainable polymers: closing the loop for a circular economy
Winter Term Undergraduate Research Project
The Center for Plastics Innovation is looking for an undergraduate researcher interested in hands-on laboratory experience in the field of polymer materials science and engineering. No experience required!
Ever wonder what happens to our reusable bags once they wear out? Are they still adding plastics waste to our landfills or is there a better way to bring them back to life? In a newly forged research partnership with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), CPI is looking to answer these questions. A team of researchers will explore end-of-life options for Delaware’s popular polypropylene bags including deconstruction, recycling, and upcycling in an effort to reduce waste and create a circular economy for Delaware’s reusable bags.
Applications are currently closed.
- Stipend – $15/hr (course credit option available)*
- 1-on-1 mentoring
- Resume-building experience
- Lab skill development
- Winter Fellows Award eligibility
- Spring Term extension (optional)
- Available on-site in Newark for Winter Term
- Active research engagement for 5-week winter term
* PLEASE NOTE: If you elect to use the research time towards course credit, University of Delaware policy dictates that we are unable to grant a stipend for that time.