Graduate Student Craig Milroy Receives National Science Foundation and Burroughs Wellcome Grants

From left: Graduate students Craig Milroy, Genevieve Lim and Lea Sorret working in the Schmidt Lab.Craig Milroy recently received an East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Collaborative Research Travel Grant (CRTG) from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

The awards, which total more than $15,000, will help Milroy travel to the University of Wollongong in Australia this summer to work with Professor Gordon Wallace, an expert in conducting polymers.

“I’m very excited and relieved,” Milroy said. “I applied last year but didn’t receive any funding, and I was worried that I might not receive any this year either which would have been very disappointing.”

While abroad, the graduate student, whose research areas are optimizing material properties of conducting polymers and ionic transport in conjugated polymer systems, plans to work on identifying strategies for improving material synthesis and fine-tuning mechanical and electrical properties of films and electrospun fibers he’s made.  Plans also include evaluating the properties and performance of the conducting polymer membranes that he has been synthesizing in the University of Texas at Austin Biomimetic Materials and Neural Engineering lab.

Conductive polymers are organic compounds that are capable of conducting electricity.  They have a wide variety of applications including electrically powering artificial muscles, helping regenerate tissue, powering batteries, and serving as solar cells to produce electricity from sunlight.

Christine Schmidt, who oversees the lab and works with Milroy said, “Working with Professor Wallace will allow Craig to gain expertise with a broader range of conducting organic materials and expand his research on incorporating carbon nanotubes into hydrogels and elastomeric materials.”

Milroy received a bachelor of science inchemistry from UC San Diego and his master of public health and master of science in environmental engineering from UC Berkeley.  Before coming to UT Austin, he worked in Brazil for seven years as an environmental engineer and public health specialist.

“I’d like to thank my advisor, colleagues, and all my professors for their support and advice,” he said.  “The courses and research opportunities that I’ve had here at UT have been beyond compare, and the professors have given me a lot of great research and career advice.”

About NSF Funding: The National Science Foundation receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

About the Burroughs Wellcome Fund: In 2010 the fund paid out $19.95 million in grants.

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