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Dr. Trevor Harding, October 20th

“Renewable and Biodegradable Polymers via Sustainable Meso-American Agriculture”


Finding new materials that are of interest in the community of materials physicists is, in my view, best done by using the insights and tools of solid-state chemistry to direct exploratory synthesis towards finding materials with potentially new electronic and magnetic properties. Unfortunately, however, most solid-state chemists do not feel comfortable with the language of physics, and further compounding the disconnect between physics and chemistry, materials physicists do not in general understand the complexities of chemistry and its language. Theoretical physicists, who I personally find to be lots of fun, seem even further in research culture from “bench chemists”, making chemical research even harder to aim towards forefront physics though it is the theorists who most often live in gardens of untested ideas. In this talk I plan to describe materials in several different chemical families that we have worked on in recent years – found from a distinctly chemical perspective, I think, with their potential significance to materials physics in mind.  Some of them you may find interesting and others not so interesting. The main idea is to keep trying, propose and find new materials to see what sticks, welcome collaborations, and never give up.


Dr. Trevor S. Harding is Chair and Professor of Materials Engineering at California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo where he teaches courses in polymeric materials, life cycle design, biopolymers and nanocomposites. Dr. Harding has published numerous manuscripts in the area of ethical development of engineering undergraduates through application of psycho-social models of moral expertise. He also conducts research in reflective thinking, student motivation, service learning, and project-based learning.  His technical research is focused on degradation of biomedical materials in vitro and the development of biodegradable and renewable polymeric nanocomposites.  He currently serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Advances in Engineering Education, and is past-Chair of the ASEE Materials Division and Community Engagement Division. He received the 2008 President’s Service Learning Award for innovations in the use of service learning at Cal Poly.  In 2004 he was named a Templeton Research Fellow by the Center for Academic Integrity, Duke University. Dr. Harding received both the 1999 Apprentice Faculty Grant and 2000 New Faculty Fellow Award for his contributions to engineering education.  When Dr. Harding is not at work, he is an avid hockey fan, blues aficionado, homebrewer, off-roader, and caregiver to over 900 species of cacti from around the world.