Canceled – ND EPSCoR Annual State Conference scheduled for April 21st

The ND EPSCoR Conference, originally scheduled for April 21st, has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. While we are disappointed, this decision was made after careful consideration and consultation with numerous individuals who all concurred the safety and health of the participants, speakers, and staff is our highest priority. We will begin conversations soon about the potential to hold the conference this fall and will keep you informed of our decision. Absent a fall conference, we look forward to welcoming everyone to Fargo next spring for the 2021 ND EPSCoR Annual Conference.

The ND EPSCoR Conference is an annual event that brings together faculty, students, and the community in a celebration of research endeavors taking place within almost all of the state’s higher education institutions.

Muneer Shaik, CSMS researcher and UND graduate student, awarded Young Investigator travel award

Muneer Shaik, a graduate student at UND and a CSMS researcher, will receive a $250 travel award for his oral presentation at the 2020 Red River Valley ACS Young Investigator Award competition held February 1st at Mayville State University.

Shaik’s presentation, ‘An efficient approach to cyclic, linear & block polyesters via ring opening polymerization using zinc amido-oxazolinate complexes’, placed 3rd and is based on CSMS research being conducted in Dr. Guodong Du’s lab at the University of North Dakota.

The travel award will help offset Shaik’s travel expenses to attend the ACS National Meeting being held March 22-26 in Philadelphia, PA. Shaik and the other award recipients will receive their travel awards following their attendance at the ACS National Meeting.

The Red River Valley ACS Young Investigator Award competition was open to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from the Red River Valley area who are ACS members and who had submitted an abstract for the ACS National Meeting this month.

Congratulations to Muneer and the other travel award recipients!

Visit the Red River Valley ACS Section Facebook page to see their posts about the Young Investigator Award competition.

Dean Webster to speak at the Waterborne Symposium 2020

Dean Webster

Dean Webster, Professor and Chair in coatings and polymeric materials at North
Dakota State University, and faculty researcher in CSMS, will be the Plenary
Speaker at the 47th Annual International Waterborne, High-Solids and Powder
Coating Symposium (The Waterborne Symposium 2020).

The Waterborne Symposium 2020 is being held February 16-21, 2020 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA. Online registration is open until 11:59PM CT on
February 12, 2020.

Webster’s talk, “Towards Sustainability in Coatings Technology: Progress, Opportunities, Barriers”, will be at 8am on Wednesday, February 19th. His CSMS research primarily focuses on high performance thermosets derived from bio-based resins having unique molecular architectures.

The Symposium, conceived and founded by three faculty members of the Department of Polymer Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, has grown from a three day technical meeting to a week-long event with various activities. There are now three days of short courses on Sunday-Tuesday before the technical meeting begins on Wednesday, as well as a technology showcase that is open Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon.

You can read more about The Waterborne Symposium 2020 at, and online registration is at

NDSU graduate student Alex Wittenberg awarded 3rd place for presentation on CSMS research

Alex WittenbergAlex Wittenberg, North Dakota State University Plant Sciences graduate student and former CSMS undergraduate researcher, was awarded 3rd place for a CSMS-related presentation at the 2019 American Society of Agronomy (ASA) annual meeting held in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 10-13.

Alex’s presentation topic, “Sowing Date Affects Winter Camelina Stand Establishment”, was within the Bioenergy Systems division of the Agronomy category and is based on CSMS research while an undergraduate under advisor Dr. Marisol Berti in Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University.

Alex was one of two NDSU Department of Plant Sciences students who was awarded for their presentation. Jesse Puka-Beals is the other NDSU Plant Sciences graduate student.

More information about these two students and their presentations can be read in a NDSU News post HERE.

Congratulations to both Alex and Jesse!

CSMS research presented by faculty and students at the 4th International Symposium on Materials from Renewables (ISMR)

Zoriana Demchuk next to her CSMS poster at the 4th ISMR

Zoriana Demchuk next to her CSMS poster at the 4th ISMR

Faculty and students from NDSU recently presented on their CSMS research at the 4th International Symposium on Materials from Renewables (ISMR) held October 9th and 10th in Athens, GA.

The ISMR symposium was co-organized by NDSU and the University of Georgia, with a goal of sharing research on converting renewable resources (for example, byproducts of agricultural production like wheat chaff, or even chicken feathers) into composites that can be used for products like paints, coatings, coatings additives, adhesives, as well as packaging, textiles, and bottles.

NDSU faculty members Andriy Voronov and Mukund Sibi presented lectures on their research and served as co-organizers of the symposium (along with Dr. Dean Webster). Sibi’s presentation described new methods for the synthesis of novel monomers from biomass. Voronov’s lecture detailed the preparation of latex composites derived from renewable plant-based monomer mixtures and their feasibility in coatings applications.

Zoriana Demchuk, doctoral student in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at NDSU, presented a poster entitled “The Life Cycle Assessment of Soybean Oil‐Based Acrylic Monomer Production.” Demchuk’s poster is based on results obtained in collaboration between the Voronov and Pourhashem groups within CSMS. Yehor Polunin, a first year graduate student in the Voronov group, presented a poster on “Fully-Biobased Latex Copolymers From Soy and Vanillin Derived Vinyl Monomers”. This investigation is a collaborative work between the Voronov and the Sibi group. Karan Bansal, a second-year graduate student in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials presented a poster on “Self-Assembled Nanoparticles Prepared Using Bio-Based Macromolecules for Functional Coatings.”

The 5th International Symposium on Materials from Renewables will be held next at North Dakota State University on July 21-22, 2020.

Zoriana Demchuk presenting on CSMS research at the 4th ISMR

Zoriana Demchuk presenting on CSMS research at the 4th ISMR

(left to right) Karan Bansa, Zoriana Demchuk, Yehor Polunin

(left to right) Karan Bansal, Zoriana Demchuk, Yehor Polunin








NDSU student and CSMS researcher Alex Wittenberg receives Best Student Oral Presentation award

Alex WittenbergAlex Wittenberg, NDSU Plant Sciences graduate student and former CSMS undergraduate researcher, received a Best Student Oral Presentation award at the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) 2019 annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona, Sept. 8-11.

There are five separate research divisions and Alex’s presentation topic “Fall Sowing Dates in Camelina Affected Plant Density” was in the Oilseeds division. Alex’s presentation is based on his CSMS research under Dr. Marisol Berti in the Plant Sciences department.

Alex was one of several students awarded at the conference. Congratulations to Alex and the other awardees!

More information about the event can be read in a NDSU News post HERE.

Hossain presents CSMS research at international conference

Dr. Khwaja HossainCSMS researcher Khwaja Hossain, Professor of Biology at Mayville State University, presented on his wheat bran fiber research at the 7th International Conference on Smart Materials and Sustainable Technologies held April 8th and 9th in Toronto, Canada.

Hossain’s research looks at the characteristics of wheat bran fiber and its potential to be a viable resource in thermoplastic biocomposites. Using wheat bran fiber in thermoplastic biocomposites offers several benefits including its being environmentally-friendly, reusable and recyclable.

Research into wheat bran fibers as a biobased alternative is just one of the materials being researched by Hossain and CSMS researcher Chad Ulven, Professer in Mechanical Engineering at North Dakota State University. Read more here about Hossain’s presentation in a post by Mayville State University.

Hossain’s CSMS-related publications include:

Other publications by CSMS researchers can be found on the CSMS publications page

Two CSMS students receive travel awards for presentations at AAIC annual meeting

Congratulations to Alan Peterson and Alex Wittenberg, CSMS researchers, for receiving travel awards for their oral presentations at the 30th annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) held September 23-26 in London, Ontario, Canada!

The travel awards from AAIC are to help offset the students’ travel expenses from attending the AAIC annual meeting. Students conducting research with industrial crops are eligible for a travel award, and up to two awards are given to each of the standing divisions in AAIC.

Both Alan’s presentation, Maximizing cover crop performance by interseeding cover crops into standing soybean, and Alex’s presentation, Morphological characteristics of winter- and summer-biotypes of camelina, are from research conducted in Dr. Marisol Berti’s CSMS research group. Alex’s oral presentation is based on CSMS research conducted as an undergraduate student.

Alan is a graduate student at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and is expected to graduate May 2019 with a Masters degree in Plant Sciences. Alex graduated from NDSU May 2018 with a Bachelors degree in Crop and Weed Sciences and is now a graduate student at NDSU.

Read more about Alan’s and Alex’s travel award in the NDSU News announcement.

Congratulations again to Alan and Alex!

CSMS student researcher Alex Wittenberg selected for the Russell and Anna Duncan Scholarship

Congratulations to Alex Wittenberg, graduate student and CSMS researcher at North Dakota State University, who was selected for the 2018-19 Russell and Anna Duncan Undergraduate Research Scholarship program.

Alex has worked on research in Dr. Marisol Berti’s CSMS group since January 2018, and graduated in May with a Bachelor Degree in Crop and Weed Sciences. Alex did present on his undergraduate CSMS research September 25th at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) held in London, Ontario, Canada.

The scholarship from the Russell and Anna Duncan scholarship program will enable Alex to continue his undergraduate research as a graduate student.

Read more about Alex and the Russell and Anna Duncan scholarship in the NDSU News announcement.

Congratulations again to Alex!

Alex Parent turns CSMS idea into Outreach with American Indian students in North Dakota

Alex Parent, Assistant Professor in Chemistry at NDSU and CSMS researcher, took an idea this past year and turned it into an Outreach opportunity with ND EPSCoR’s Sunday Academy program.

The Sunday Academy program, designed to generate interest in math, science, and engineering among American Indian high school students in North Dakota, is held at the five tribal colleges in North Dakota: Cankdeska Cikana Community College; Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College; Sitting Bull College; Turtle Mountain Community College; and, United Tribes Technical College.

Faculty from NDSU and UND, as well as the tribal college Sunday Academy coordinators, are invited to submit STEM related topics, and seven topics are then chosen for the following year’s program. The NDSU and UND faculty get together with tribal college coordinators during the 2nd week of ND EPSCoR’s NATURE University Summer Camp, held in June, to turn their ideas into hands-on activities. Two topics, selected as all-site STEM modules, are taught in January and February – hello Winter! – by the tribal college coordinators. The other five topics selected are led by the UND and NDSU faculty who travel once to each of the five tribal colleges between September-December and March and lead the activities for their STEM topic.

This past year, Alex turned his CSMS-related topic “Polymer Synthesis from Common Materials” into three activities: Modeling Molecular Structures; Crosslinking – Polymers to Plastics; and, Extracting PET strands from Soda Bottles.

Being involved in ND EPSCoR’s Sunday Academy program isn’t new to Dr. Parent. In 2017-2018, he traveled to the tribal colleges to lead activities for his CSMS-related topic “Recycling Bioplastics”, and in 2019-2020 he will have activities related to “Gold Nanoparticles”.

Alongside Dr. Parent’s lesson, the other topics from the 2018-2019 Sunday Academy program included:

  • “Understanding the anatomy of the eye” led by Dr. Ben Balas (NDSU, Psychology)
  • “Digital preservation of natural and cultural resources” led by Dr. Stephanie Day (NDSU, Geosciences)
  • “Influenza outbreak” led by Dr. Natasha Petry (NDSU, Pharmacy)
  • “Adaptation and climate change” led by Drs. Jill Hamilton and Pam Puppo (NDSU, Biological Sciences)
  • All-site lesson “Hypothesis and Product Testing” from Dr. Mafany Mongoh (Sitting Bull College, Environmental Sciences)
  • All-site lesson “Sentiment Analysis” from Dr. Ravi Yellavajjala (NDSU, Civil and Environmental Engineering)

More information about the Sunday Academy program can be found at Previous years’ topics and their activities can be found through this same webpage link.