New newsletter highlights CSMS research

Interested in learning more about what’s going on with CSMS research?

ND EPSCoR has started a monthly newsletter called News and Notes to spotlight ND EPSCoR-funded activities. In addition to providing information on ND EPSCoR’s two research centers (publications, presentations, patents, etc.), the newsletter may feature activities of other ND EPSCoR programs (summary of other programs), individual participant news, and notices about upcoming events and funding opportunities.

The newsletters can be found on the ND EPSCoR website within the News and Events section. The direct link is

So, read what’s new with CSMS researchers and, go ahead, bookmark the newsletter webpage — you know you want to.

Ulven presents at Science Café event

CSMS student Anna Renner wins best poster

Congratulations to Anna Renner for winning best poster at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference!

Anna Renner, second from left, poses with the 2nd place winner and others at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. * This photo is from the conference’s photo gallery found at

Anna Renner attended the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference held June 18-20 in Portland, Oregon to give a poster presentation on research she was conducting in the Center for Sustainable Materials Science.



Renner’s presentation, Synthesis of bio-derivable reactive diluents for styrene replacement in sustainable polymers, was based on her CSMS research under the direction of Dr. Mukund Sibi. Eric Serum, a graduate student at North Dakota State University, was also involved in the research Anna presented on.

As mentioned in a previous CSMS post, Anna has been involved in CSMS research under Dr. Mukund Sibi at North Dakota State University (NDSU) since January 2017 and graduated May 2018 with her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She is currently a lab technician in Chemistry and Biochemistry at NDSU, and she plans to begin graduate studies in chemistry at Harvard University Fall 2018.

Congratulations again to Anna on her first place poster award!

CSMS researcher Dr. Alena Kubátová receives Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship

Congratulations to CSMS faculty researcher Dr. Alena Kubátová for receiving the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship!

Dr. Kubátová, Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Alena Kubátováhas been involved in CSMS research since May 2016. She has also been involved in several other ND EPSCoR-funded programs for students as an advisor to recipients of the following ND EPSCoR funding opportunities:

  • Advanced Undergraduate Research Award (AURA)
  • Graduate Student Research Award (GSRA)
  • Doctoral Dissertation Assistantship (DDA) funding

In addition, Dr. Kubátová was a recipient of ND EPSCoR WISE funding Spring 2017.  WISE, acronym for Women in Science and Engineering, is designed to help expand efforts to increase female participation in STEM disciplines and to increase the capacity of investigators to compete more effectively for additional grant funding.

Dr. Kubátová has also been involved in ND EPSCoR’s NATURE program – Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education – by providing a lab tour to NATURE University Summer Camp participants June 2017.

Congratulations again to Dr. Kubátová for being honored with UND’s Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship!

You can read more about Dr. Kubátová and the Professorship honor in this UND University Newsletter article

Two students who have worked on CSMS research receive prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Congratulations to CSMS participant Anna Renner for receiving a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

Anna with her CSMS poster presented at the April 2018 ND EPSCoR Annual State Conference.

Anna has been involved in CSMS research, under Dr. Mukund Sibi at North Dakota State University (NDSU), since January 2017 and graduated May 2018 with her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She is currently a lab technician in Chemistry and Biochemistry at NDSU, and she plans to begin graduate studies in chemistry at Harvard University Fall 2018. During the time Anna has been involved in CSMS research, she has made the following poster presentations related to her CSMS research under Dr. Sibi:

  • Bio-Derivable Alkoxybenzenes for the Synthesis of Sustainable Polymers
  • Preparation of a Novel, Bio-Derivable Crosslinker for Polymer Synthesis
  • Preparation of Bio-Derivable Reactive Diluents for Polymer Synthesis
  • Synthesis of Bio-Based Reactive Diluents as Styrene Alternatives
  • Synthesis of Bio-Derivable Reactive Diluents for Styrene Replacement
    in Sustainable Polymers
  • Synthesis of Biomass-Derived Furan-Based Ethers
  • Synthesis of Cirsiumaldehyde: A Reaction Optimization Study

Congratulations again to Anna, and best wishes to her on her graduate studies at Harvard!

More information about Anna and another NDSU student who received the Fellowship this year can be read in this NDSU News article

Congratulations to Katelyn Randazzo, previously a participant in CSMS research Fall 2013 to May 2016 under Dr. Qianli Chu at the University of North Dakota, who also received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2018. While involved in CSMS research, Katelyn made the following poster presentations and has been included in several publications:


  • Commercial Floodlights: A Promising Resource in Photochemistry
  • Floodlight Photochemistry: From a Classic Photoreaction to Cutting-Edge Application
  • Incandescent Light: A Promising Radiation Source in Photochemistry
  • Lighting the Way to Accessible Solid-State Photochemical Synthesis: Incandescent Lights as a Facile Source of Ultraviolet Radiation
  • Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Floodlights as a Facile UV Light Source for Classic and Cutting-Edge Photoreactions
  • Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Lights as a Promising Source of Ultraviolet Radiation


  • Randazzo, K.; Wang, Z.; Wang, Z.D.; Butz, J. and Chu, Q.R. (Available online July 2016). Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Floodlights as a Facile UV Light Source for Classic and Cutting-Edge Photoreactions, ACS Sustainable Chem. & Eng., 4(9), 5053-5059.
    DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b01506
  • Wang, Z.; Kastern, B.; Randazzo, K.; Ugrinov, A.; Butz, J. Seals, D.W.; Sibi, M.P. and Chu, Q.R. (2015). Linear polyester synthesized from furfural-based monomer by photoreaction in sunlight, Green Chemistry, 17, 4720-4724.
    DOI: 10.1039/C5GC01783A
  • Wang, Z.; Randazzo, K.; Hou, X.; Simpson, J.; Struppe, J.; Ugrinov, A.; Kastern, B.; Wysocki, E. and Chu, Q.R. (2015). Stereoregular Two-dimensional Polymers Constructed by Topochemical Polymerization, Macromolecules, 48(9), 2894-2900.
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b00109
  • Wang, Zhihan.; Miller, B.; Butz, J.; Randazzo, K.; Wang, Zijun D. and Chu, Q. (2017). Polyladderane Constructed from Gemini Monomer via Photoreaction. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 56, 12155-12159.
    DOI: 10.1002/anie.201705937

Congratulations again to Katelyn as you continue your studies!

Anna and Katelyn are two out of three individuals who have received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in the last two years who have been involved in a ND EPSCoR sponsored program.

  • Alec Redmann, Summer and Fall 2014 participant in ND EPSCoR’s STTAR program, Students in Technology Transfer And Research, received his Fellowship in 2016. You can read more about Alec in this UND University News article.

Congratulations to Alec!


CSMS participants competed in the Agriculture track at NDSU’s Innovation Challenge 2017 and placed…..

Pictured (L to R): Burkart, Amiri, Helten, and Ulven

Two participants with the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS), PhD Graduate student Ali Amiri, and Master’s student Victoria Burkart – along with Britt Helten, a Master’s student also doing research on sustainability – presented their innovative idea ‘Sustainable Sporting Goods’ at this year’s Innovation Challenge at NDSU and placed 2nd in the Agricultural track! All three work on research under Dr. Chad Ulven, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at North Dakota State University.

Congratulations to Ali, Victoria and Britt on your winning innovative idea!

The sustainability research Dr. Ulven is working on in CSMS is what led the students to their innovative idea. Their idea had been selected, along with 43 other innovative ideas, to move on to the semi-final round of the Innovation Challenge scholarly competition that was held on January 30th, 2017 at NDSU’s Memorial Union.

Since the 2017 NDSU Innovation Challenge, Britt and Ali have graduated; and Ali, now Dr. Amiri, has joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at NDSU as an Assistant Professor of Practice.  Congratulations Britt and Ali!

A little bit more about Dr. Amiri:

  • Ali has been working with CSMS since 2014 and has been developing bio-based composites using flax fiber and soybean oil resins developed by Dr. Dean Webster’s CSMS group.
  • What got him interested in the STEM/science field: The most interesting part about it is to find out about the science behind everything, design and create new ideas, and apply those ideas and science to everyday life with the goal of improving everyone’s life including future generations (sustainable design).

Below are some other photos for you to enjoy:

Burkart and Helten in the lab

Burkart and Helten at the event

Amiri at the event


Links to news items about the 2017 NDSU Innovation Challenge:

11/30/2016   44 Ideas Advance to Semi-Final Round of Innovation Challenge

02/02/2017   Innovation Challenge Showcase

03/06/2017   Innovation Challenge 2017 Winners

CSMS researcher Chad Ulven receives 2017 Scientist Medal from IAAM for his CSMS research

Dr. Chad Ulven, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NDSU and CSMS researcher, recently received the 2017 Scientist Medal from the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) at their annual European Advanced Materials Congress (EAMC) held August 22-24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ulven received the award through his CSMS collaborative work with Dr. Sivaguru, a former CSMS researcher now at Bowling Green State University, aimed at creating recyclable biocomposites from photo-triggered resins.

Congratulations to Dr. Ulven on this scientific recognition!

UPDATE 10/03/2017: Dr. Ulven’s achievement was noted on 9/29/2017 in the NDSU News post Associate chair of mechanical engineering receives international award as well as on

High School Chemistry teacher sparked scientific curiosity

Arvin Yu, a Graduate Student in Coatings and Polymeric Materials at North Dakota State University, assists in the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) research in Dr. Dean Webster’s CSMS research group. Arvin’s contribution to CSMS research is in developing bio-based resins from soybean oil and sugar for structural composite applications. Arvin wants to work in the industry and put into practice the knowledge and skills he learned through his work with the CSMS research group.

Arvin has been scientifically inclined since he was young. His high school chemistry teacher sparked scientific curiosity in him at an early age, and she influenced him to take an active interest in chemistry. Fun fact about Arvin: he finds it fun and enjoyable to try out different cuisines when he goes out to eat.

You can watch Arvin, alongside graduate student Adlina Paramarta and Postdoc Ivan Hevus, in the following video as they talk about some of their work with the CSMS research group:

You can also see Arvin featured in the following local KVLY news segment, with fellow graduate student Kyle Kingsley, about their experiments at the NDSU graduate-run event Avenues of Scientific Discovery

You can view more videos about CSMS research at the CSMS website’s Multimedia page at

Science Training in Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainable Chemistry (STAIRS @ Sivagroup) at North Dakota State University.

By Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru, Ramya Raghunathan and Ravichandranath Singathi

In June 2016, Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru’s Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) research group, through a research collaborative partnership with Dr. Mafany Mongoh at Sitting Bull College (SBC), Fort Yates, ND, welcomed Mr. Saul Bobtail Bear and Mr. Josh Silk to Dr. Sivaguru’s lab at NDSU. Saul and Josh are environmental science students at Sitting Bull College participating in CSMS research under Dr. Mafany Mongoh.  As part of the ND EPSCoR program, the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) plays an important role for research collaborative projects among different research expertises in science and engineering. CSMS helps in providing research and STEM education opportunities for students across the state, including students at the Tribal Colleges (TCs). CSMS research groups across the state teach and explain the importance of using agricultural materials to develop sustainable materials as alternative energy resources for fossil fuel materials.

Dr. Sivaguru’s CSMS group provided research training for Saul and Josh using his interdisciplinary training program STAIRS @ Sivagroup.  The STAIRS @ Sivagroup training program helps students meet the challenges of the 21st century through integration of science, technology and research with outreach and collaboration.  Saul and Josh worked on the synthesis of photodegradable polymers derived from biomass (fructose-derived products) by incorporating phototriggers as a light sensitive unit in the polymer backbone. CSMS students Ramya Raghunathan and Ravichandranath Singathi interacted closely and worked in collaboration with Saul and Josh.

Apart from the synthesis, they did controlled degradation of the biobased polymer and the model systems by employing light as the energy source for the recovery of the monomer. The techniques they learned included experiment/reaction setup, isolation of compounds by extractions and purification, photoreactions in a Rayonet Photoreactor/chamber, and analysis of the products formed by TLC and NMR characterizations.

At the end of the training, Josh mentioned that “it’s a nice platform and a good start for undergraduate students from different fields like engineering, microbiology, environmental sciences to get familiarize about the importance of sustainable materials in day to day life and understanding about the impact of fossil fuels derived products and their depletion from the environment”. The STAIRS @ Sivagroup interdisciplinary learning program motivates students from diverse backgrounds and helps students working in CSMS research teams to understand, and help others understand, the true meaning of sustainability, renewability, and reproducibility.