Group Photo.

The Benicewicz Group

The Benicewicz Group is made up of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctorates, and senior personnel at the University of South Carolina. The underlying theme for our work is our ability to synthesize polymers by new methods with properties or combinations of properties not found in existing materials. Learn about each member of the group by clicking on the names above or to the right.

Zaid Alajeeli

Zaid Alajeeli

Personal Information

My name is Zaid Mohammed Abbas Alajeeli. I am originally from small city (Suwayrah) in the middle of Iraq. I studied my Bachelor and M.S. degree in organic chemistry at AL-Nahrain University, Baghdad Iraq. Then, between 2009 -2012 I had worked as Teaching Assistant in University of Wasit. During this period 2010 -2012 I had worked with Dr. Khalidah S. Merzah group to prepare some nanoparticles. I joined Dr. Brian Benicewicz's group in 2014 to work on research in polymer chemistry, with a focus on RAFT polymerization and polymer nanocomposites.

Contact: Alajeeli@email.sc.edu

Michael Bell

Michael Bell

Personal Information and Current Work

I am native of New Jersey and a 2009 graduate from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. My undergraduate research dealt with thermochemical classification of various plant derived bio-fuels. After graduating I spent nine months at the Department of Homeland Security’s, Transportation Security Laboratory working in trace explosive research and development. At the TSL, I worked on various projects ranging from measuring surface to surface transfer of trace explosive particles, to measuring the thermal stability of homemade explosives commonly found in IEDs. After my time at the Transportation Security Laboratory I worked at Coim USA inc., a polymer production facility located in West Deptford, NJ. There I was hired into quality control before moving to research and development. While at Coim my assignments included routine and non-routine analysis, analytical method development, and synthesis of polyester and polyurethane polymer products. When deciding to continue my education, the work of Dr. Benicewicz caught my attention and ultimately brought me to USC to pursue my PhD. Currently, I am working on the "RAFT" controlled radical polymerization and polymer nanocomposite area of research for the Benicewicz group.

Contact: bellmh@email.sc.edu

Yucheng Huang

Yucheng Huang

Personal Information

I was born in Yancheng, a small city in Jiangsu, China. I got my B.S. (chemistry) and M.S. (organic chemistry) in Nanjing University. During that time, my research was mainly about stimuli-responsive supramolecular hydrogels and photo-induced organic synthesis. After graduation in 2011, I joined Jiangsu Bote New Materials Co. Ltd., China. I worked on improvement of synthesis methods and production process of water-soluble polymers including polycarboxylate ether (PCE) superplasticizer, which are widely used as essential additives in concrete industry.

I joined Dr. Benicewicz’s group in 2013. Currently my research focuses on synthesis and applications of new polymer nanocomposites by Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) technology.

Contact: yucheng@email.sc.edu

Mohammad Mohammadkhani

Mohammad Mohammadkhani

Personal Information and Current Work

I am originally from Shahrood, Iran. I obtained my M.S. degree in organic chemistry at Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran. There, I worked on shape-controled synthesis of silver nanoparticles and synthesis of hyperbranched Pd nanostructures. I joined Dr. Brian Benicewicz's group in 2012 to pursue research in polymer chemistry, with a focus on RAFT polymerization. I am currently working on synthesis of new RAFT agents.

Contact: mohammam@email.sc.edu

Andrew Pingitore

Andrew Pingitore

Personal Information

I am originally from Cassadaga New York. Upon graduating high school I obtained my B.A. in chemistry with a minor in economics at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington Pennsylvania. I also played football while attending W&J and was a part of the SAACS club. I then started at the University of South Carolina during the summer (2014) as a Copenhaver Fellow working in the Benicewicz group. I am currently a graduate student studying organic/polymer chemistry. I enjoy sports, fishing, working out, as well brewing beer.

Contact: Pingitoa@email.sc.edu

Julia Pribyl

Julia Pribyl

Personal Information

I am originally from Denver, CO and graduated in May 2014 with my B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina. My undergraduate work focused on developing an improved methodology for silylation-based kinetic resolutions of secondary alcohols by analyzing both kinetic studies and the interaction of steric and electronic effects on the silicon source to be used in the resolution. In August 2014 I began my Ph.D studies at USC and joined the Benicewicz group.

Guoqing Qian

Guoqing Qian

Personal Information and Current Work

I am a Research Assistant Professor in this group, and my research focus on the development of novel polymeric materials for membrane and electrode additive; the application of these membranes and electrodes in electrochemical devices such as fuel cell, hydrogen pump, etc.

I received my PhD in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY at 2008. My research at RPI included novel PBI synthesis, PBI-based MEA durability testing and novel electrodes. I obtained B.S. in Chemistry from Fudan University in China in May of 1996.

Contact: guoqing@mailbox.sc.edu

Warren Steckle

Warren Steckle

Past Experience and Current Work

I received my Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1981. While I was there I did research in the area of siloxane containing block copolymers under the guidance of Prof. Jim McGrath. From there I went to Thoratec Laboratories where I was able to expand upon this research by developing surface modifying additives for use in biomaterials and breathable textile coatings.

I left Thoratec to get my Masters degree in Polymer Science from the University of Connecticut in 1992. My research at UConn under Prof. Bob Weiss involved the synthesis and characterization of block copolymer ionomers. From there I went to work Los Alamos National Laboratory. Polymer degradation and stability and low-density polymeric materials were two of the main thrusts of my research.

After 16 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory I am here at the University of South Carolina managing the fuel cell and polymer nanocomposite laboratories for Brian. I have the privilege of working with Brian's students and post-docs, providing training to the new members of the group, and maintaining the analytical equipment and chemical supplies in support of their work.

Selected Publications

Schoonover, J. R.; Steckle, W.P., Jr.; Cox, J.D.; Johnston, C.T.; Wang,Y.; Gillikin, A.M.; and Palmer, R.A. Humidity-Dependent Dynamic Infrared Linear Dichroism Study of a Poly(Ester Urethane). Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy (2007), 67(1), 208-213.

Steckle, W. P., Jr.; Schoonover, J. R.; Lanier, N. E.; Nobile, A. Dopeable styrenic foams used in inertial fusion targets. Journal of Materials Science (2006), 41(13), 4055-4060.

Wilson, K.V., Jr., Smith; Smith, B.L.; Macdonald, J.M.; Schoonover, J.R.; Castro, J.M.; Smith, M.E.; Cournoyer, M.E.; Marx, R.; Steckle, W.P., Jr. Physio-chemical degradation of Thermally Aged Hypalon Glove Samples. Polymer Degradation and Stability (2004), 84, 439-449.

Steckle, W. P., Jr.; Smith, M. E.; Sebring, R. J.; Nobile, A., Jr. Optimization of HIPE Foams. Fusion Science and Technology (2004), 45(2), 74-78.

Coons, J. E.; Stephens, T. S.; Mooday, R.; Graham, A. L.; Steckle, W. P. The Mechanical Characterization and Stress Relaxation of a Filled Silicone Foam, Aging Studies and Lifetime Extension of Materials, Mallinson and Kluwer, Eds., Academic/Plenum Publishers, (2001), 467-472.

Steckle, Jr., W.P., Carbon Foams Prepared from Hypercrosslinked Polymer Foams, Recent Advances in Polymeric Foam & Technology, Amer. Chem. Soc. Sym. Series 669, K. Khemani, Ed., Washington, D.C., 26 (1997)

Steckle,W.P., Jr.; Duke, J.R., Jr.; Jorgensen,B.S.; Cobalt Dicarbollide Containing Polymer Resins for Cesium and Strontium Uptake, Metal Containing Polymeric Materials, C.U. Pittman, et al., Eds., Plenum Publishing, New York, NY, 277, 1996.

Lu, X.; Steckle, W.P., Jr.; Hsiao, B.; Weiss, R.A.; Thermally Induced Microstructure Transitions in a Block Copolymer Ionomer, Macromol., 28, 2831, 1995.

Lu, X.; Steckle, W.P., Jr.; Weiss, R.A.; Morphological Studies of a Triblock Copolymer Ionomer by Small Angle X-ray Scattering, Macromol., 26, 6525, 1994.

Yilgor, I.; Steckle, W. P., Jr.; Yilgor, E.; Freelin, R. G.; Riffle, J. S.; Novel Triblock Siloxane Copolymers: Synthesis, Characterization, and Their Use as Surface Modifying Additives, J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polymer Chem., 27(11), 3673-90, 1989.

Patents

Castro, J.M., Macdonald, J.M., Steckle, W.P., Jr., Glove Leak Test Plug, 6,810,715, Nov. 2, 2005.

Steckle, W.P., Jr.; Mitchell, M.A.; Apen, P.G.; Highly Cross-linked Nanoporous Polymers; US Patent 5,629,353 ; 1997.

Contact: steckle@sc.edu

Yang Zheng

Yang Zheng

Personal Information and Current Work

My name is Yang Zheng and I am currently a graduate student in Benicewicz Group. I was originally from China, where I got my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Nanjing University. I joined the group in end of 2012, with interests in making multi-functional nanoparticles via controlled polymerization techniques. Now I am focusing on the study of synthesis and properties of multi-stimulus responsive nanoparticles.

Contact: zheng42@email.sc.edu