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is really the perfect place to be in conducting research on nanoparticle-enhanced plastics," says Daniel Schmidt. "We have better equipment than all but a handful of institutions worldwide, we have a lot of expertise on how to use these nanocomposites and we have excellent connections — and credibility — with industry."
Schmidt obtained his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering in 2003 from Cornell University. That was also where he met his future wife, Emmanuelle Reynaud, who was a postdoctoral researcher working in the same lab. Reynaud is now an assistant professor in the
Mechanical Engineering Department
at UMass Lowell.
After brief stints as postdoctoral associate at BASF AG/ Institut de Science et d'Ingénierie Supramoléculaires in Strasbourg, France, and summer faculty fellow at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Schmidt joined UMass Lowell in 2005.
"The University was my chance to gain a greater degree of control over the direction of my research, which was certainly very appealing," he explains.
In addition to conducting studies on nanocomposites and the toxicity of nanoparticles, he is developing ways of manufacturing electrical wire and cable insulation using environmentally friendly raw materials.
"I've also recently developed an epoxy resin that’s designed to replace the BPA- [bisphenol A-] based resins out there that comprise the coatings lining the vast majority of our food and beverage cans," he says. "BPA is a compound that has been found to have endocrine-disrupting potential and folks are very worried about it these days."
Schmidt describes his teaching and research experience at UMass Lowell to be challenging but productive.
"It's always challenging to teach something, because it forces you to confront your own weaknesses in the subject area," he says. "Once that’s done, the next challenge is to find the best ways to reach out and motivate the students — it's the same in research for that matter. I enjoy interacting with students. Likewise, for research, a lot of good work has been done — the big challenge now is writing it up!"