Chemistry student’s poster wins contest, makes way for research paper

By on May 2, 2014

Tim Cato // Web Editor

UNT doctoral chemistry student Casey Thurber topped 20 other posters to win first place and $150 with his poster presentation on anti-corrosive coatings at the 2014 SAMPE Technical Symposium and Materials Expo on April 10.

SAMPE, the Society for Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering, is an international society that shares chemical knowledge through forums and publications. The Expo, hosted by the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, had participation from UNT, the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas State University.

“The mission of SAMPE is to bring industry education in institutions and dump them together for material and process engineering,” said professor Nandika D’Souza, education chair of the SAMPE DFW chapter.

Material and process engineering involves the technology that takes raw materials and turns them into tangible products.

D’Souza also said presenting a poster helps students receive constructive criticism and develop their research, allowing them to incorporate those things when it’s time to write the paper.

“In some cases, these guys didn’t know what I was talking about,” Thurber said. “You have to talk at different levels.”

It’s also likely that students could present in front of a potential employer, since Thurber said all the judges work at companies throughout the area such as Boeing and Dell.

Titled “Ni-Mo and Cu-Ni Nanocomposite Coatings for High-Temp and Microbial Induced Corrosion,” Thurber’s poster presented research that can be used to combat the harsh conditions stainless steel productions are presented with in the oil and gas industry.

Thurber has been studying making film coatings out of clay-infused copper and nickel – Cu-Ni. These films coat the surface of stainless steel, Thurber said, which brings hardness to the coating to prevent corrosion.

For a stainless steel container holding oil, the film could be applied to the outside, protecting against the harsh environmental exposure to many oil drilling locations, or the inside, resisting the corrosive effects of some oils.

Thurber said the biggest challenge was dealing with heterogeneous films, or films that aren’t exactly the same across the entire surface. He tries to make the films as homogenous, or uniform, as possible.

“The films are only as strong as their weakest link,” he said. “If you have an area that’s not what you want it to be, then it can be a problem for your film.”

Poster presentations are crucial in the chemical industry. Over the past decades, posters have filled the void between beginning academic research and a full-fledged research paper.

More important than the poster is that the research has been conducted, Thurber’s faculty mentor and chemistry professor Teresa Golden said.

“I didn’t even know there was a contest,” Golden said. “You’re not thinking of that.”

Thurber now will take the next step and write a paper, Golden said. But not all posters make it that far – she said it just depends on the research.

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