October 29, 2015As an undergraduate student studying chemical engineering and mathematics, Jaimee Robertson ’13, G ’15 had her first taste of research in Professor Pat Mather’s research group in the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute. Her interest in Mather’s research influenced her decision to remain at Syracuse University to earn her master’s in chemical engineering. Robertson’s passion for polymers and materials science inspired her to contribute to world-class research. It also shaped her career goals, putting her on a path to a research scientist position with the Cambridge Polymer Group. But her path wasn’t always so clear. In fact, she enrolled at SU with her major still undecided. So what was it that ignited her passion in chemical engineering? What inspired you to choose chemical engineering? I have always loved math and science and, in high school, chemistry was my favorite class. For me, chemical engineering was the best way to integrate those subjects. Also, I think chemical engineering students are exposed to a diverse range of engineering courses. Since I did not initially have a defined path, chemical engineering left a wide range of technical specialties open to me. Why did you choose Syracuse University? I came to Syracuse undecided because I knew the University would have a quality program in whatever I ultimately chose to pursue. Also, I am a huge SU basketball fan, so the opportunity to be a part of Otto's Army was an added benefit. What was your research about? I worked mostly on developing new shape memory polymer (SMP) composites. SMPs are polymers (essentially plastics) that can be deformed into a shape that they will hold until they are triggered to return to their original form. Usually that trigger is heat, but it can also be water, light, or electricity. SMPs can be used in areas such as the medical, aerospace, and textile industries. One of the problems for the medical industry is that most SMPs are relatively rigid and not ideal for certain applications in the body. I worked on developing a composite system to fabricate a soft SMP. Essentially, our SMP was like a rubber band that could be fixed into a temporary shape (rolled up, twisted, stretched, etc.). When we heat it, it returns back to its original form. The processing method I used, called dual-electrospinning, gives us control over the composition of our composite. We’re able to fine-tune the SMP’s properties. For example, the modulus (how rubbery or stiff the composite is) can be adjusted to meet the application requirements. What was your favorite thing about attending Syracuse University? You are never bored when you are on this campus. In addition to all of the valuable time spent in class and on research that interests you, we have major sporting events and concerts, many clubs or intramurals, and opportunities to take in part-time jobs to gain experience or earn extra spending money. It is the extra things that students participate in that make the experience fun and unique for each person. Did Syracuse University help you achieve your goals? Yes, this University has prepared me for my engineering career. The academic programs are rigorous and challenging which is recognized by people outside of SU. The faculty and staff are all supportive and willing to help in any way they can. That support and guidance was essential in helping me determine my academic and career paths.