Program in Polymer Science and Technology

The Program in Polymer Science and Technology (PPST), founded in 1986, is an interdepartmental program offering graduate education in the interdisciplinary field of polymer science and engineering. Its goals are to provide educational opportunities and to foster a spirit of community and collaboration among the large and widespread group of students, faculty, and visitors involved in polymer-related activities at MIT. It consists of a core curriculum, written and oral qualifying procedures for doctoral studies, and continuing education opportunities through seminars, visitors from industry and academia, and research competitions. The program is administered by faculty from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, and Chemistry. PPST also serves as a focal point for information and opportunities in polymer-related fields at MIT.

There were 35 students enrolled in PPST in 2002–2003, with home departments in Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. This year the program graduated one student with the MS degree and six students with the PhD degree. Two new PPST students were admitted into the program from the Department of Chemical Engineering and one from Materials Science and Engineering.

Professor Karen K. Gleason from the Department of Chemical Engineering joined the PPST faculty this year in recognition of the expanding use of polymers in her field.

The new PPST curriculum was launched this year. The core curriculum remains focused around fundamental courses in physical chemistry and synthetic chemistry of polymers, biopolymers, and mechanical behavior. A project lab is conducted during the Independent Activities Period. Additional topics in polymer morphology, colloids, and surface science, macromolecular hydrodynamics, and polymer statistical mechanics are alternated each year so that the full curriculum can be completed in four semesters.

The PPST weekly seminar continues to attract an average of 50–80 students, Faculty, and visitors per seminar. This past year, lectures were presented by leading polymer faculty from a number of US and European universities as well as from Faculty and senior students within MIT. Professor Ken Beers (Chemical Engineering) and Professor Christine Ortiz (Materials Science and Engineering) were in charge of the organization of this seminar series.

In spring 2003, PPST conducted its second annual OMNOVA Signature Award for Excellence in Polymer Research, sponsored by the OMNOVA Foundation. This competition produced two student awardees—Jeri Ann Hiller and Ariya Athakul—who each received a cash award and invitations to present their award-winning research in a special PPST seminar. The awardees' faculty advisors, Professors Michael Rubner and Anne Mayes, were also recognized.

A new web site was launched in 2002, and the brochure for the program was updated in order to improve the visibility of the program both within and beyond MIT.

Gregory C. Rutledge
Professor of Chemical Engineering

More information about the Program in Polymer Science and Technology can be found on the web at


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