Tonight, PNM’er Dennis Shaffer talks with chemist Mahesh Mahanthappa, formerly of the Department of Chemistry, UW-Madison. Mahesh will continue his research this coming Fall in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. In the interview he describes polymers, the building blocks of plastics. Part of his research works with underlying substances called block copolymers, which if combined properly, may result in materials with properties not usually contained together. In some areas, his research group may be close to reaching a finished material. In others, the work is still in the exploration stage. Also, Mahesh talks about his move to the University of Minnesota, where he had some previous experience as a postdoctoral researcher before coming to UW-Madison. He accepted the new job position before the state budget concerning UW-Madison was known to the public, but agrees the university will have to make some serious decisions on budgeting that might effect scientific research. Mahesh, however, has serious concerns about the removal of shared governance that could definitely target scientific research.
For more information on polymers and plastics, check out Macrogalleria for teacher and students, and the Case for Plastics from the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and How Plastics Works from the website Howstuffworks.