Website Widgets-1672b9z
Principal Investigator


Thomas H. Epps, III
Bachelors – 1998 MIT,
Masters – 1999 MIT (Practice School),
Doctorate – 2004 University of Minnesota,
Post-Doctorate – 2006 NRC Postdoctoral Fellow – NIST,

University of Delaware (UD)
Allen & Myra Ferguson Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Professor of Materials Science & Engineering

Professor of Biomedical Engineering (affiliated)
Director, UD, Center for Research in Soft matter and Polymers (CRiSP)
Director, UD MRSEC, Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials (CHARM)
Deputy-Director, DOE EFRC, Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI)

Lignolix, Inc.
Chief Scientific Officer

Email: Thomas H. Epps, III

Post Doctoral Members

Soojin Kwon

Bachelors – 2017 Seoul National University
Masters – 2019 Seoul National University
Doctorate – 2022 North Carolina State University
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Epps group

During her master’s, Soojin worked with Dr. Hak Lae Lee on inorganic coating structure and drying dynamics. In her Ph.D., she worked with Dr. Richard Venditti and Dr. Joel Pawlak on biodegradation of bio-based polymers. She joined the Epps group in May 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher working on depolymerization of polymers. Outside of research, she enjoys traveling and hanging out with friends. 

Email: Soojin Kwon

Luca (Jung Min) Kim

Bachelors – 2014 University of Pittsburgh
Doctorate – 2021 Auburn University
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI, co-advised by Dr. LaShanda Korley)

During his bachelor’s, Luca worked with Prof. Robert Enick on fluoroacrylate-styrene copolymer as a CO2 thickener. In his Ph.D., he worked with Prof. Bryan Beckingham on the transport of alcohols and carboxylates (products of CO2 reduction cells) and urea (feed of direct urea fuel cell). Previously, he worked with Prof. Geoff Geise as a post-doc researcher at the University of Virginia, where he worked on designing sulfonated polysulfone-based membranes. He joined the CPI in August 2023 as a post-doc researcher. He is working on (1) the fuel cell membranes and (2) the design and synthesis of bio-based polymers. Outside of research, Luca enjoys tennis, chess, beaches, and trails. 

Email: Luca (Jung Min) Kim

Alex Balzer

Bachelors – 2015 North Carolina State University
Doctorate – 2022 Georgia Institute of Technology
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Center for Plastics Innovation (co-advised by Dr. LaShanda Korley)

In his Ph.D., Alex worked with Dr. Natalie Stingelin at Georgia Tech on structure-property interrelations for polymers in photonics and electronics. He worked on high refractive index polymer hybrids and advanced calorimetric techniques for semiconducting polymers. Alex joined the Center for Plastics Innovation in May 2022 as a post-doctoral researcher working on valorizing plastic waste. Outside of research, Alex enjoys playing several sports and is an avid golfer.
Email: Alex Balzer

Eric Gottlieb

Bachelors – 2013 Carnegie Mellon University
Doctorate – 2018 Carnegie Mellon University
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Epps group

During his bachelors, Eric worked with Prof. Rongchao Jin on synthesis and characterization of gold nanoclusters. In his Ph.D., he worked with Prof. Tomasz Kowalewski and Prof. David Yaron on characterization, applications, and electronic structure modeling of heteroatom doped carbon nanostructures. In July of 2018, Eric joined the Epps group as a post-doctoral researcher working on nanostructured polymer characterization, control, and applications. Outside of research, Eric enjoys cooking, exercising, and building stuff.
Email: Eric Gottlieb

Ty Christoff-Tempesta

Bachelors – 2017 University of Florida
Doctorate – 2022 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Epps Group

During his bachelor’s, Ty worked with Prof. Laurie Gower to investigate polymer-induced mineralization of collagen scaffolds. More recently, Ty researched the synthesis, processing, and properties of robust small molecule assemblies, and their application to water treatment, in his doctoral work with Prof. Julia Ortony. While at MIT, Ty also engaged with the Massachusetts State government and industry in plastics sustainability efforts. Ty joined the Epps group in August 2022 as a post-doctoral researcher investigating lignin valorization to high-value polymers and chemicals. Outside of research, Ty enjoys volleyball, skiing, and cooking. 

Email: Ty Christoff-Tempesta

O'DeaRobert O’Dea
Bachelors – 2015 University of Pittsburgh,
Doctorate – 2022 University of Delaware
Current Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Epps group.

Robert joined the Epps group in December of 2017. His research involves bio-based polymers with a focus on block polymers for lithium-ion battery membrane technology. Outside of the lab, Robert enjoys hiking, traveling, and photography.
Email: Robert O’Dea
Introduction Video

NixonKevin Nixon
Bachelors – 2018 Auburn University
Doctorate – 2023 Texas A&M University
Current – Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Epps group.

In his Ph.D., Kevin worked with Dr. Yossef (Joe) Elabd on the synthesis and characterization of star poly(ionic liquid) homopolymers and block copolymers for lithium-ion batteries. Kevin joined the Epps group in July 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher working on depolymerization of polymers. Outside of research, Kevin enjoys weightlifting, sports, and watching tv shows and movies.
Email: Kevin Nixon

Graduate Students

LeeHaesoo Lee
Bachelors – 2018 University of Texas at Austin,
Masters – 2020 Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium
Current Graduate Student (co-advised by Dr. LaShanda Korley).

Haesoo joined the Epps group in the summer of 2022. Her interest in building sustainable materials has motivated her to investigate lignin-derivable polymers. Outside the lab, Haesoo enjoys listening to music, traveling, and watching TV shows.
Email: Haesoo Lee

JigneshJignesh Mahajan
Bachelors – 2016 Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
Masters – 2018 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Current Graduate Student (co-advised by Prof. LaShanda Korley).

Jignesh has worked on electrospinnability of ultra-high molecular weight polypropylene (UHMWPP) for his master’s thesis under the supervision of Prof. Anup K. Ghosh (IIT Delhi) and Dr. V. K. Gupta (Reliance Industries Ltd., Mumbai). He also has worked on life cycle assessment, shear thickening fluids, and lignocellulosic fibers and their composites. He joined Epps group in fall 2018. His research involves design and development of bio-based polymers and processing, with a focus on application development. Outside lab, he likes to listen to music and travel.
Email: Jignesh Mahajan
Introduction Video

JigneshMaida Mahmood
Bachelors – 2016 University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore
Current Graduate Student (Co-advised by Dr. LaShanda Korley).

Maida has joined Epps group in the Fall of 2019. Her research will be oriented towards development and characterization of bio-based polymers. Outside of research she is an avid admirer of art and music.
Email: Maida Mahmood
Introduction Video

SaraMengying (Sara) Yang
Bachelors – 2019 Northwestern Polytechnical University, China
Current Graduate Student.

Sara joined the Epps Group in fall of 2019. Her interest in helping the world energy issue has motivated her to pursue the research on lithium-ion batteries. Outside of research, Sara enjoys playing tennis, traveling and hanging out with friends.
Email: Mengying (Sara) Yang
Introduction Video

SampannaSampanna Mhatre
Bachelors – 2018 Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
Current Graduate Student (co-advised by Prof. LaShanda Korley).

After his bachelor’s focused on polymers and coatings, Sampanna got around 2.5 years of industrial research experience in the field of Epoxy resin and hardeners. He joined the Epps group in November 2020 where his work will be oriented towards the Renewable Polymers and Plastics Upcycling effort. Outside of research, Sampanna likes to play harmonica and listen to music.
Email: Sampanna Mhatre

AlisonAlison Shapiro
Bachelors – 2020 Johns Hopkins University
Current Graduate Student

Alison joined the Epps group in the fall of 2021. Her interest in sustainable materials motivated her to pursue research on the design and characterization of biobased polymers. Outside the lab, Alison enjoys swimming, skiing, hiking, reading, and spending time with friends.
Email: Alison Shapiro

JamaelJamael Ajah
Bachelors – 2017 Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
Masters – 2020 African University of Science and Technology, Abuja
Current Graduate Student
Jamael is interested in the beauty of the interplay between polymer science and catalysis. He is particularly interested in lignin-based polymers.
Other awesome things Jamael likes to do include singing in his room, listening to music, cooking, reading fine novels, and most importantly, connecting with amazing people.
Email: Jamael Ajah

VeniceVenice Magunga
Bachelors – 2018 University of Rochester
Current Graduate Student
After her bachelor’s degree, Venice worked in the paint and coatings industry for 3 years. Venice joined the Epps group in the fall of 2022. Her research involves polymers for lithium-ion battery applications. Outside of research, Venice enjoys listening to music, cooking and hanging out with friends.
Email:Venice Magunga

Undergraduate Students

Genevieve KrollGenevieve Kroll
Undergraduate Student,
University of Delaware (Class of 2024)

Genevieve Kroll is a sophomore chemical engineering student with a minor in sustainable energy technology, entrepreneurship, and material science. She is working on developing biobased thermoset polymers with Mridula. Outside of her studies, Genevieve is involved in Alpha Omega Epsilon and Club Swimming. She also enjoys cooking, Formula 1 racing, and traveling and is originally from Houston, Texas.
Email: Genevieve Kroll

Anna LongAnna Long
Undergraduate Student,
University of Delaware (Class of 2025)

Anna is a sophomore chemical engineering student with a minor in material science and engineering. She is working with biomass and lignins to help produce more sustainable plastics with Alison. Outside of school, Anna enjoys running, singing, and baking.
Email: Anna Long

Olivia KellyOlivia Kelly
Undergraduate Student,
University of Delaware (Class of 2025)

Olivia is a junior chemical engineering major with a minor in chemistry, mathematics, and statistics. She is working with Sara to improve the safety and efficiency of lithium-ion batteries. Outside of the lab, Olivia enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with friends.
Email: Olivia Kelly

George LauriGeorge Lauri
Undergraduate Student,
University of Delaware (Class of 2026)

George Lauri is a Freshman Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering major. He is working on lignin-derivable ionic liquids under Ty. Besides academics and research, he adores reading and creative writing and likes cooking and baking when he has the time.
Email: George Lauri

Past Members
Tianwei Yan, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Garrett Bass, Ph.D. – Align Technology
Priyanka Ketkar, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, NIST
Joshua Watson, BS (UD 2022), Chemical Engineer at Compact Membrane System, Inc.
Aynur Guliyeva, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, PIMM-CNRS, ENSAM, CNAM, Paris, France
Craig Machado, Ph.D. – PPG, CA
Greg Peterson, Ph.D. – U.S. Army DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD
Alice Amitrano – Graduate student, Johns Hopkins University
Paula Pranda – Graduate student, University of Colorado Boulder
Manisha Ahir, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, Baylor College of Medicine
Antigoni Konstantinou – Graduate student, University of Connecticut
Kayla Lantz, Ph.D. – Assistant professor, Fairmont State University
Jordan Willie
Christine Castagna
Chao Wang, Ph.D. – PPG Industries
Seung Sung, Ph.D. – LG Electronics
Dajeong Kim
Melody Morris, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, MIT
James Mannino – BS (UD 2019), W. L. Gore & Associates
Silvia Grama, Ph.D. – nanoComposix
Sophia Freaney
Yi Shi
Kaleigh Nicastro – MS (UD 2018)
Victoria Muir – BS (UD 2018), University of Pennsylvania PhD Student
Rashida Ruddock – MS (UD 2018)
Shu Wang, Ph.D. – Bridgestone Americas
Thu Vi, Ph.D. – Dow Chemical Company
Maura Swift
Grace Kresge – REU Student, Princeton
Shelby Babcock – REU Student, Arizona State University
Thomas Gartner
Cameron Shelton, Ph.D. – Dow Chemical Company
Chad Greco, Ph.D. – Gilead Sciences
Jack Saltwick – BS (UD 2017)
Jason Andrechak – BS (UD 2017), University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. student
Laurens Heusele – MS (UD 2017)
Emma De Baets – MS (UD 2017)
George Wieber
Jillian Emerson, Ph.D. – Dow Chemical Company
Ming Luo, Ph.D.
Tiffany Suekama, Ph.D.
Spencer Burton – REU Student, Case Western Reserve University
Douglas Scott – BS (UD 2016), Princeton University Ph.D. student
John McCarron – BS (UD 2016), Peace Corps
Michael Karavolias – BS (UD 2016), University of Minnesota Ph.D. student
Dakota Hanemann-Rawlings – BS (UD 2016), U.C.S.B. Ph.D. student
Michael Mayeda, Ph.D. – SAGE Energy Solutions
Angela Holmberg, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral researcher, MIT
Bonnie Limpawuchara
Wei-Fan Kuan, Ph.D. – UD Advanced Materials Characterization lab
Ryan Murphy – MS (UD 2014)
Ellen Reed – BS (UD 2014)
Matthew Green, Ph.D. – Assistant professor, Arizona State University
Sarah Mastroianni, Ph.D. – Dow Chemical Company
Elizabeth Kelley, Ph.D. – NRC post-doctoral fellow at NIST
Eddie Sangern
Sung Hyun Han
Kevin Hutter
Ron Lewis – Graduate student, University of Minnesota
Jung Hyun Lee – Post-doctoral researcher Korea Institute of Science and Technology
Jon Seppala – Post-doctoral researcher NIST
Matt Hoffman
Robby Pagels – BS (UD 2012)
Joey Kim – BS (UD 2012), Cal-Tech Ph.D. student
Sarah Hann – BS (UD 2012), U-Penn ChemEng Ph.D. student
Bin Wei – Research student
Owen Young, Ph.D. – Currently employed by Dow Chemical
Eddie Qian –Undergraduate researcher
Raghunath Roy – Post-doctoral researcher Dow Chemical
Jennifer Kelly – Currently employed by the FDA
Thomas Smart – Post-doctoral researcher
Vijay Taori – Post-doctoral researcher
Maëva Tureau, Ph.D. – Currently employed by Air Products
Julie Albert, Ph.D. – Current faculty at Tulane University
Chisom Amaechi – Research student
Jong Keun Park – Post-doctoral researcher, currently employed by Dow
Ben Schantz – University of Delaware (c/o 2012)
Mike Baney – BS (UD 2010), employed with Hexcel
Tim Bogart – BS (UD 2010), UT-Austin ChemEng Ph.D. student
Christina Marino – Currently employed by Johnson & Johnson
Jason Papandrea – University of Delaware (c/o 2011)
Tom Ronan – REU student, Notre Dame University (c/o 2010)
Jasmine Smith – REU student, Delaware State University (c/o 2011)
Nripen Singh – Post-doctoral researcher, currently employed by Lynntech, Inc.
Paul Brigandi – BS (UD 2008), currently employed by Dow
Tom Scherr – BS (UD 2008), LSU ChemEng Ph.D. student
Krishna Mukkavilli – REU student, Arizona State University (c/o 2009)
Ilyas Sarwar – Visiting group member
Peter Wells – BS (UD 2009)