May 09, 2017 11:45AM
With support from the Kansas Legislature, Pittsburg State University launched its Polymer Chemistry Initiative in 2014. Now, just three years later, the university is producing a rising number of graduates for industry and advanced programs.
Following commencement May 12-13, all seven students graduating from PSU’s polymer chemistry program will go off to jobs with major companies or into highly regarded polymer chemistry Ph.D. programs.
“Over the past few years, the Chemistry Department has more than doubled the number of students in its graduate programs in chemistry and polymer chemistry and significantly increased the number of graduates,” according to Petar Dvornic, chair of the Chemistry Department.
Pitt State awarded its first two master’s degrees in polymer chemistry last year. Those two are currently in Ph.D. programs at the University of Texas and Oklahoma State University. In addition, four students earned chemistry degrees last year, but completed extensive work in polymer chemistry. Of those, one is now in a Ph.D. program in Switzerland, another is in a Ph.D. program at Oklahoma State, another is working for a company in Saudi Arabia and the fourth is working for a biochemical company in Kansas City.
“Our graduates are almost instantaneously finding jobs or admission to graduate schools where they can earn terminal degrees,” Dvornic said. “We believe that this is the surest indicator of the quality of our program and the quality of our students who graduate from it.”
Dvornic said one of the reasons the polymer chemistry graduates are having so much success is that almost all of the graduates from the program have had high quality papers published in leading science journals and almost all also attended and presented research results from their work at some regional, national or international science conferences.
“These are invaluable experiences that high level graduate schools and many employers carefully look for and are impressed with,” Dvornic said.
Additionally, polymer chemistry students learn from some of the world’s leading scientists through the Distinguished Polymer Lecture Series.
“Such experiences enable our students to experience here at home what people pay substantial amounts to see and hear at international scientific conferences,” Dvornic said.
Dvornic said he believes the polymer chemistry program’s successes will only continue to grow.
“It’s a very young program and we are enthusiastic about what the future holds,” Dvornic said.