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Lowrie Lecture I: Eric Kaler

President, University of Minnesota, "Polymerization in Organized Fluids"
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 11:30 am
130 Koffolt Laboratories, CBEC
151 W. Woodruff Ave
Columbus, OH 43210

Eric W. Kaler

University of Minnesota


Polymerization in Organized Fluids



Surfactant molecules aggregate in water to form organized structures of a variety of shapes and sizes.  Under certain conditions the addition of a hydrophobic liquid leads to the creation of thermodynamically stable microemulsions, which can also have a range of structures and topologies.  These surfactant microstructures are fluid, but the structures can be fixed by appropriate polymerization reactions.  I will discuss three different polymerizations.  First, a microemulsion of monomer in water will be polymerized to produce nanoparticles containing a high molecular weight polymer, then polymerizable monomers will be used to produce thin spherical shells from vesicles and long polymer rods from micelles.  In situ small angle neutron scattering (SANS) during microemulsion polymerization helps elucidate the mechanism of polymerization, and both SANS and cryo-TEM show the structural evolution of vesicles and micelles during polymerization. 


Eric W. Kaler, President of the University of Minnesota

On July 1, 2011, Eric W. Kaler became the 16th president of the University of Minnesota. His return to lead his alma mater (Ph.D. 1982), among the nation’s largest and most comprehensive universities, followed a distinguished career as a chemical engineering innovator and scholar. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and holds 10 U.S. patents.

Kaler, one of the nation’s leading experts on “complex fluids,” was elected in 2014 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in two categories: for his work as a chemical engineer and as a higher education administrator. In 2010, Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. In 2012, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano named him to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security Academic Advisory Council, on which he continues to serve and is now Co-chair of the HSAAC’s Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism. In 2013, he was named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

As University of Minnesota president, Kaler has focused on core priorities. These include: academic excellence; access for qualified students and a commitment to diversity; careful stewardship of tuition and public dollars; affordability; growing a world-class research enterprise that aligns with the needs of the state of Minnesota and its industries; and a deep commitment to public engagement and outreach, locally and globally.

From 2007 to 2011, Kaler served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. While at Stony Brook, he was also vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory Affairs. Previously, he was dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering and the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering. He also taught at the University of Washington. He received his undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1978.