LaTasha Nicholson, a senior majoring in material science and engineering with a minor in polymer science, recently presented a poster at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS ) at High Point University. Nicholson received the NC State Undergraduate Research Grant for 2015-16. She is an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Ericka Ford, assistant professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science at the Wilson College of Textiles. Nicholson and Ford presented together at High Point.
Nicholson’s research is based on producing high performance fibers using lignin, a waste by-product of the pulp and paper industry. She specifically focuses on the dissolution temperatures of lignin composite fibers. “This characterization technique will give a better understanding of the molecular interactions between lignin and polymer in the fiber. If the dissolution temperature increases with lignin content, then both the polymer and lignin are interacting well together. Working with Chunhong Lu, a graduate student in the Wilson College of Textiles, our goal is to further optimize the process of fiber spinning for better mechanical properties,” said Nicholson, who graduated from Clayton (N.C.) High School.
This area of research is of interest to Nicholson because fibers can be used in different applications. “There are also many different things to learn about polymers. Having the hands on experience in the lab is really helpful because I can relate it back to my courses,” she said.
After completing her undergraduate degree at NC State, Nicholson plans to attend graduate school to study polymer science. “After obtaining a Ph.D., I hope to go on into industry to work for an apparel company such as Adidas, Under Armour or Nike,” she said.
Colleges, universities and community colleges in North Carolina host a symposia each year to showcase North Carolina undergraduate student research and creative work. SNCURCS provides undergraduate scholars in all fields a forum to share the results of their work through posters, presentations, performances, and works of art.