PCI is proud to be partnering with the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at The University of Southern Mississippi to provide information on the program’s upcoming graduates. Read below to learn about our Student of the Month, and email polymers@usm.edu or call 601-266-4868 for more information about them.

Name: Alexandra Ivey
Degree Being Sought: Undergraduate
Undergrad Degree & Institution: Polymer Science B.S. & The University of Southern Mississippi (School of Polymer Science and Engineering)
Research Group: Thames-Rawlins Research Group
Area of Study: Polymeric Coatings and Corrosion Technology
Hometown: Waveland, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done

My independent research focuses on the synthesis of a series of hydrogels that vary in particle size and chemical composition through changing the crosslinker to understand water absorption properties to eventually be incorporated into model polymeric matrices to mitigate water diffusion to the coating-substrate interface. The systems are comprised of poly(methacrylic acid) that are crosslinked by aliphatic and aromatic diamines, and dimethacrylates with varied PMAA degree of ionization.

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?

The Polymer Science program has provided me with a skill set and knowledge to continue forward with graduate school to study Materials Science Engineering with an emphasis in polymer technology. From earning my doctorate, I would eventually like to work at a National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) center, researching aerospace materials and coatings.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

2014-Present Eagle Assistance- GPA based scholarship

2014-2017 Waterborne Scholarship

Awards won

2017-2018 Southern Society of Protective Coatings Scholarship Award



Who or what influenced your USM education the most?

My father is a University of Southern Mississippi (USM) alumni and he was a part of the College of Science and Technology. Before coming to USM I was adamant on earning my bachelor’s degree in chemistry, it was my father who pointed me in the direction of Polymer Science. Throughout my four years at USM, he has never doubted my capabilities and he continued to push me to my full potential.

Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?

Vice President of Polymer Science Association, 2016-2017 (PSA); Undergraduate recruitment for Thames- Rawlins Research Group; High School recruitment and involvement during Black and Gold Day

As an undergraduate in Polymer Science, I had multiple opportunities to recruit other incoming undergraduates to the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at USM. As a recruiter, I provide insight to requirements needed to be successful as an undergraduate, specifically for a Polymer Science B.S. major, and my research dealing with hydrogels and anti-corrosive coatings. These outreach and recruitment opportunities are dear to me because I can still remember my field trip to NASA’s Women in Science Day, and I would like everyone to have a memory that is similar to mine, inspiring them to continue their education and pursue their dreams.

Your most profound turning point while at USM?

When I joined the Thames-Rawlins Research Group during my sophomore year I started to get serious about my ultimate goal of working at NASA. Every experiment I performed and technique I learned was aimed at bettering me as a scientist and giving me the tools I need to be successful. I was selected to work under Dr. James Rawlins because I showed extreme interest in coatings technology and I exceled in understanding the research.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

With graduating with a major in Polymer Science, there are so many options to peruse in terms of careers, but the one that intrigues me the most is research for NASA. I want to continue research in aerospace coatings and one-day branch out to aerospace composites. Graduate school is a milestone to continue with my career goals. I pride myself in my ambition and passion to learn, which is showcased in my research and the work I do with my graduate students. With the techniques, characterization skill set, and polymer knowledge I have gained, I plan to keep striving towards my career goals because I know I am capable of fulfilling these goals to obtain a career as a research scientist.

While at USM, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?

Over the past summer, I was selected as an intern to work in the Material Science Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Not only was I able to make friends from all over the United States but I was also exposed to Materials Science. This internship influenced my choice in graduate school and graduate research I wish to pursue.