New Paper in PNAS Highlighted by Penn Today

A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America was published recently by the Percec group and highlighted by E. K. Brockmeier “Cells use sugars to communicate at the molecular level” in Penn Today.

The paper reports by using atomic force microscopy images that were fast fourier-transformed, we found that sugars on the surface of synthetic cells organize themselves automatically into thin lamellar layered and hexagonal patterns. The shapes that the sugar molecules form allows the synthetic cells to be recognized by other cells and also enhances their reactivity with proteins.

Professor Virgil Percec Commented on C&EN News on ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry for Professor Timothy M. Swager

Professor Virgil Percec Commented on C&EN News on 2019 ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry for Professor Timothy M. Swager, John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Chemical & Engieering News, 2019, 97 (3), 50-51.

“Tim is one of the most creative scientists working in the field of polymer chemistry and is a leader of our field. He is one of the very few members of our community who has taken polymer chemistry from fundamental development to commercial products that impact our daily life and create a safer society.”—Virgil Percec, University of Pennsylvania.

Previous awardees of ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry



Former Member Professor Andrea Kasko elected to Vice-Chair of ACS POLY Division

Former Member Professor Andrea M. Kasko, Bioengineering, UCLA, was elected to Vice-Chair of American Chemical Society, Division of Polymer Chemistry. Andrea obtained her M.S.E. in Professor Virgil Percec’ group while in Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Department of Macromolecular Science Engineering Cleveland, OH during 1997–1999.

Congratulations to Professor Andrea M. Kasko!

Former Member Professor Ulrica Edlund elected to The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA)

Former Member Professor Ulrica Edlund, Fiber and Polymer Technology, School of Engineering Sciences of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, was elected to The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA). Professor Edlund‘s research interests focus on polymeric biomaterials, including their synthesis, surface modification and characterization, with potential applications as drug delivery matrices and more broadly in the field of tissue engineering.

Professor Ulrica Edlund was a postdoctoral research fellow in Percec’s group from 2000 to 2001. Among other projects, she contributed to the dipeptide project published in Nature (Nature 2004430, 764–768).

The pictures show Professor Ulrica Edlund (on the right, in a blue dress) in the group of people being elected as new members.

Shitao Wang named Associate Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology

Congratulations to Shitao Wang for being named an Associate Professor at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology! Below is a Q&A with Associate Professor Wang.

What is your new title and when will you start your professorship?
My new position is the Associate Professor in the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China. And I would like to start my professorship in October.
-Tell me more about your background and where you received previous education.
I obtained my bachelor’s degree at Zhengzhou University (2010) in polymer science and engineering, and master’s degree in 2013 in organic chemistry (research filed: organic optoelectronic material science) at Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. After that, I joined professor Makoto Fujita’s lab at the University of Tokyo, Japan and obtained my Ph.D. degree in applied chemistry in 2016. During my Ph.D. study, most of my work was about the metal-organic ligand coordinated self-assembly in supramolecular chemistry and the host-guest chemistry.
-Why did you decide to do research in the Percec Group?
I decided to do research in the Percec group to broaden my research experience and to learn something different from my previous work. And also professor Percec is very famous for the self-assembly in the bulk state. His group developed the unique methodology to analyze the self-assembled structure in solid states, which is totally different from my Ph.D. study where most self-assembly was conducted in the solution state.
-What have you learned during your time in the Percec Group?
I have learned a lot after one year of study in Percec’s group such as how to synthesize Percec’s type dendrimers, how to analyze the self-assembled structures in the solid state, and much about xrd analysis.
-What are your research goals after leaving the Percec group? How has your time in the Percec group molded your future aspirations? 
After leaving this group, I would like to put my research interest in material science. Hopefully, I can combine the chemistry and material science in my research and focus on their application. My unforgettable experience in this group inspired me that we should do our own unique research and should not always follow others’.
-Do you have any advice for aspiring professors or researchers?
To do scientific research, we should work hard, think hard, and be patient and strict with our experiments. To be the group leader, we should know how to make everyone involved in the project to be more efficient and make the project progress well. Finally, cooperation in scientific research is also very important.
-William Hasley

Welcome our new group members!

We are recently hosting lots of visiting scholars and students this summer. They are:

Mr. Bilal Javed (Pakistan), Ms. Saliha Nazir (Pakistan), Ms. Hina Daud (Pakistan)

Mr. Yuqing (Robert) Luo (China), Mr. Shangda (Brooks) Li (China)

Mr. Takahiro Oh (Japan), Mr. Adriel Melendez (Puerto Rico)

Mr. William (Billy) Hasley (Penn), Mr. Alexander Zhu (Penn)

And high school students:

Matthew Liu, Shriya Agarwal, Adarsh Rao

Welcome to Percec Group!

Athina Anastasaki appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor at ETH Zürich!

Former group member Dr. Athina Anastasaki has been appointed as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Polymeric Materials at ETH Zürich. Athina visited the Percec group as a researcher on multiple occasions, during her PhD studies under Professor David Haddleton at University of Warwick, UK. She subsequently moved to the University of California Santa Barbara as a Elings Fellow with Professor Craig J. Hawker. Athina’s research focuses on polymer nanoparticles, and will be a key addition to strengthen ETH Zürich’s polymer chemistry expertise.

Many congratulations, Athina!

Three-step one-pot methodology for functionalization of sterically hindered polyacrylates

A new publication from the group in Polymer Chemistry addresses the functionalization of sterically hindered polyacrylates. Unlike poly(methyl acrylate) (PMA), the chain ends of which can be reacted quantitatively after polymerization, the chain ends of poly(butyl acrylate) (PBA) show lower reactivity due to steric encumbrance. In this work, a three step methodology involving biphasic SET-LRP, chain extension with methyl acrylate and heterogeneous esterification provides a route to acrylate-functionalized PBA. This approach, which can be simplified by applying two or even all three steps in a single pot, may provide a more general route to the funcationalization of sterically hindered polyacrylates.

This work was led in the group by Adrian Moreno with contributions from Tong Liu, as part of a collaboration with the group of Gerard Lligadas at University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain.