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Assistant Professor Kaitlyn Crawford has been named a 2024 Early Investigator Symposium Honoree by the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE). As a recipient of this distinction, Crawford will give a lecture during the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Crawford is one of 24 professionals and academics to be recognized with the PMSE award this year, and the first faculty member from UCF to ever be selected. The honor is bestowed upon emerging leaders in the field of polymer materials science and engineering who have made significant contributions early in their career.

“It’s a humbling honor to be selected to present at the PMSE Early Investigator Symposium during the fall ACS Conference in Denver,” Crawford says. “The recognition is an opportunity to form new collaborations in the scientific community and motivation to continue pursuing critical research topics in polymer materials science and engineering.”

During the conference, Crawford will present a lecture titled “Modulation Material Properties of Branched Polysaccharide Hydrogel Films,” which covers the methods and challenges for improving the mechanical properties of natural polymers by forming chemical and physical crosslinks. Hydrogels are polymers that can readily absorb water and are used in a number of practical applications such as batteries, drug delivery and filtration systems.

Crawford’s research focuses on identifying new materials, particularly polymers, for environmentally sustainable sensing applications. Since 2009, she has garnered several awards for her research and for teaching. In addition to teaching and conducting research for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, she is also affiliated with the Department of Chemistry, the NanoScience Technology Center and the Biionix Cluster.

She earned her doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park, her master’s degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.