14th Annual Triangle Soft Matter Workshop

The symposium reunited 180 materials scientists in person from Duke, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill to discuss polymers, biomaterials and more

The Fitzgerald Center at Duke University was abuzz May 9, as the Duke Materials Initiative (DMI) welcomed 180 materials science and engineering colleagues from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for the 14th Annual Triangle Soft Matter Workshop. As the first in-person version of the event in three years, the pent-up energy to discuss polymers, biomaterials and more while networking with colleagues overflowed the auditorium and atrium, spilling outside onto the sunny Harrington Engineering Quad.

man and woman looking at a research poster together

The full-day event rotates annually among the three universities, but during the last two years of the pandemic, it moved online into a half-day format. Over time, it has helped establish North Carolina’s Research Triangle Region as a destination for soft matter research.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows occupied as much of the program as the three invited speakers—each representing one of the universities—and the keynote speaker, which is a testament to the commitment of the Triangle soft matter community to training the next generation of materials scientists and engineers.

“We’ve got such a fantastic soft matter community in the Triangle, and having that community back together to share ideas for a day was invigorating for everyone. We look forward to seeing the great ideas that come out of the interactions!”

Stephen Craig, William T. Miller Distinguished Professor of Chemistry



Keynote: Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Title: "Chemically Controlled Shape-morphing of Elastic Sheets"

woman in dark suit presenting at conferenceAlexander Zhukhovitskiy, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, UNC-Chapel Hill

Title: "The Logic of Polymer Synthesis and Degradation"

Po-Chun Hsu, Assistant Professor, Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Duke University

Title: "Electrochemically Dynamic Materials for Solar and Radiative Thermoregulation"

Adriana San Miguel, Assistant Professor, NC State University

Title: "Worms, Chips, and Computer Vision: Unconventional Tools to Better Understand Aging, Stress, and Neurodegeneration"

Poster Award Winners

people looking at research posters in a row at a conference

1st Place: Mohammad Shamsi, NC State, "Ultrashort and Stretchable Thermoplastic Elastomer Gel Nonwovens"

2nd Place: Michah Papanikolas, UNC-Chapel Hill, "Reversing Mucus Aggregation as a Strategy to Restore Airway Function"

3rd Place: Jihye Kim, NC State, "Spontaneous and Selective Wetting of Gallium-Based Liquid Metal Induced by Imbibition"