Ken Hackenberg, a Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science student, presented his research to a distinguished international group of scientists when he attends POLYCHAR 16 - World Forum on Advanced Materials in Lucknow, India.
The February conference is one of the most prestigious annual conferences in materials science. Hackenberg's research on approaches to improve the properties of polylactides, which he conducted under the supervision of UNT postdoctoral research associate Tea Datashvili, will be presented in a poster session and be eligible for awards.
Hackenberg says he will probably be the youngest person presenting research at POLYCHAR 16, which is primarily attended by university professors and graduate students working in materials science.
As a TAMS student, Hackenberg works in UNT's Laboratory of Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materials studying the properties of polylactides - biodegradable thermoplastics derived from lactic acid. Because they are nontoxic and biologically compatible with the human body, polylactides currently are used in biomedical applications such as sutures, stents and drug delivery devices.
The lab is directed by Witold Brostow, Regents Professor of materials science and engineering.
TAMS is a two-year residential program at UNT that allows talented students to complete freshman and sophomore years of college while earning high school diplomas. Students enroll in the academy following their sophomore year in high school, live in a UNT residence hall and attend UNT classes with college students. After two years, they enroll at UNT or another university to finish bachelorís degrees.
Hackenberg entered the academy in August 2006. "Several of my ancestors were successful physicists, and I have always been interested in that area of science. I found Dr. Brostow's research on the UNT web site and e-mailed him. He invited a few TAMS students to work in the lab," he says.
He added that he's grateful to Brostow and Datashvili for giving him an individual research project, and to Brostow and Richard Sinclair, dean of TAMS, for providing funds to send him to POLYCHAR-16.
Between classes at UNT and other activities at TAMS, Hackenberg spends five to 10 hours at the lab. Last summer, he received a stipend from TAMS to work up to 40 hours a week on his research.
Hackenberg, the son of Marion Goedde-Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hackenberg of Plano, Hackenberg attended Clark High School. At TAMS, he is a mentor to first-year academy students and a member of Helping Other People Everywhere, a community service organization.
After graduating from TAMS in May, Hackenberg will attend Cornell University to major in materials science and engineering. He plans to eventually earn a doctoral degree and become a researcher.
UNT News Service Press Release
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