Dr. James Mendez, an IUPUC Assistant Professor in Chemistry, was awarded a 2017 Fulbright Scholarship last year. He spent the fall semester in Tallinn, Estonia, with his family. While abroad, Mendez taught a graduate class in bio-polymers while studying chitin, a naturally occurring polymer (plastic) in shellfish, mushrooms and insects.
Using a technique called electrospinning, chitin fibers can be pulled out of solution and combined with electrically active polymers to create a strong, conductive, and environmentally friendly material. While Mendez’s research focuses on the basic material properties of chitin, the applications are far reaching in modern medicine and electronics.