Dr. Valerie Ashby

B.A. Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1988); Ph.D. Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1994), Advisor: Joseph M. DeSimone, Kodak Corporate Research Fellowship, 1995 ACS Graduate Research Award in Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering; National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow (1994-1995), Universitat Mainz, Germany, Advisor: Reimund Stadler; National Science Foundation in a Faculty Early Career Development Award (1997-2001); Dupont Young Faculty Award (1997-2000); 3M Young Faculty Award (1998-2001); UNC’s Sitterson Award for Freshman Teaching (2008) 

Current Students

Sara Turner

Sara Turner

Sara received a BA in Chemistry from Williams College in 2011.  She completed thesis work designing new catalysts for atom transfer radical polymerizations, and spent one summer at UC Santa Barbara learning how to make MOFs. She is currently interested in fabricating stronger self-healing materials. Outside of lab, she serves as the VP of the UNC Chapter of MRS, the City and Local Relations Chair for the Graduate and Professional Students Federation, and will chair the upcoming Gordon Research Seminar in Polymers.

Katelyn Houston

Katelyn received a BS with distinction in Chemistry from Juniata College in 2012.  She completed thesis work on the spectroscopic analysis of pigments found on British portrait miniatures at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, England) as well as Pennsylvania-German fraktur.  She is currently working to make biodegradable, radiopaque biomaterials and CT nanoparticle contrast agents.  Katelyn serves as the President of the UNC Chapter of MRS.  She also volunteers at both the North Carolina Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Yung “Su” Chan

YungSu is from Hong Kong and received her BS in both Biochemistry and Nutritional Science from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2012.  She worked at Colgate-Palmolive company as a lab assistant for two years before coming to UNC.

Ahmed-Rufai Ibrahim


Rufai is from Greensboro, North Carolina and received his BA in Chemistry from UNC-Greensboro in 2011.  He worked at the Breen Technology Center of Sherwin-Williams Paints for three years before coming to UNC.

Undergraduate Researchers

Stephanie Liffland

Previous Students

Anne-Martine S. Jackson (8/10-12/14)
Research Topic-“Utilizing Functionalization to Access Advanced Materials Properties”
Presently employed with Eastman Chemical, Kingsport, TN
Sarah Brosnan – (8/08 –12/13), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Development of Novel Polyesters as Unique Biomaterials”
Presently a postdoctoral fellow with the Max Plank Research Institute
Jason Rochette – (8/07 – 6/12), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Versatile Routes to Photo-Responsive Polyesters for Dual and Triple Shape Memory Biomaterials”
Presently employed with AkzoNobel Coatings, Akron, OH
Hayden Black – (8/07 – 4/12), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Expanding the Scope of Oligothiophene Based Semiconductors: Perfluoroalkylated Materials and Fused Thienoacenes”
Presently a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech
Duy Le – (8/07 – 3/12), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Shape Memory Biomaterials”
Presently employed with Lord Corporation, Durham, NC
Peter Uthe – (8/05-5/10), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Design of Polymeric Materials for the Enhancement of Gene Delivery”
Presently employed with Bayer Co., West Virginia
Matthew Cottle (8/03-8/08), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Polyphenylene Based Photovoltaics”
Presently employed with Syngenta, Inc., Greensboro, NC
Jinrong Liu (8/03-7/08), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Degradable Polyester Elastomers for Tissue Engineering Applications”
Presently employed with Rohm and Haas, Marlborough, MA
Benjamin Pierce (8/03-6/08), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Polyester Urethane Shape Memory Materials”
Presently employed with GKSS Research Center Geesthacht, Germany
Andy Brown (8/04-5/08), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “New Methodologies for Functionalized Polyester Materials”
Presently employed with the Center for Naval Analysis, Arlington, VA
Jake Sprague – (8/05-5/07), M.S.
Research Topic – “Polyester Elastomers”
Presently employed with Liquidia, North Carolina
David Olson – (8/02-5/06), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “Functionalized Aliphatic Biomaterials”
Presently employed with 3M, Minneapolis, MN
Irene Yang – (8/00-5/06), Ph.D.
Research Topic – “New Block Copolymers for Gene Therapy Applications”
Presently employed with Bayer Co., West Virginia