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Five Questions with Dr. Kavita Mathur

Dr. Kavita Mathur and students

By Cameron Walker

“Textiles are an integral part of our life; it has always amazed me how much textiles are involved in every aspect of it,” said associate professor Dr. Kavita Mathur, who joined the department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management this August. “Growing up, I was always intrigued by textile structures and how they are made to perform in different applications. The endless possibilities of diverse textile applications and the opportunities for research and innovation in this field keeps me interested and challenged.”

Teaching is a very exhilarating and rewarding experience; it provides a dynamic environment and creative challenges, and encourages constant learning.

Mathur brings to the Wilson College of Textiles a potent mix of creativity, innovation and technical knowledge. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Science, Textiles and Clothing in India, then graduated with her Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science from the Wilson College of Textiles at NC State in 2007. She served as a research and teaching assistant while earning her doctorate, teaching fabric formation and structure labs, and held a postdoctoral research position for the year following graduation.

She returns to her alma mater with a dozen years of industry experience and achievements in innovative home textiles such as sheets, towels, bath and area rugs, utility fabrics and smart textiles; healthcare textiles, including therapeutic bedding, hospital patient apparel and surgeons’ gowns; and technical textiles for the government, defense and consumer industries. Before joining the Wilson College of Textiles, she was general manager of Innovation and Patents with Welspun USA from June 2015 to August 2018, where she was responsible for driving innovation into intellectual property asset and new business development. Prior to that, she worked at Precision Fabrics Group in Greensboro, NC, as Research and Development technical manager for the healthcare products division from October 2008 to May 2015, where she developed healthcare and technical textiles.

What are your research interests — and why do they interest you?

My research interests are broad and varied. They include healthcare textiles; the impact of textiles on health, sleep, performance and comfort; digital color communications, sustainable design practices and fashion; refashioning textile waste; upcycling design; material innovation; end-use performance of textile materials; smart textiles design, which includes functional and interactive textile solutions for home and apparel; and high-tech performance textile design inspired by nature (biomimicry).

My research interests focus on creating meaningful and impactful research that will contribute to society, to health and well-being, and the environment. I am interested in facilitating health centered research that will enhance the application and sustainability of evidence-based health and healthcare services.

What is it like to return to your alma mater — this time as a professor? What do you like most about teaching?

While I have been incredibly fortunate to spend time in the industry after earning my Ph.D., my long-term goal was always to come back to academia. I feel extremely proud to be part of this Pack — then as an alumna and now as faculty. I feel incredibly honored with this opportunity to be able to give back and contribute.

I personally feel teaching is a very exhilarating and rewarding experience; it provides a dynamic environment and creative challenges, and encourages constant learning.

Besides your family, what achievement in life are you most proud of?

My rewarding career in textiles — starting with my Ph.D. from this esteemed institution, then in industry, where I was able to apply my professional academic knowledge to create and develop textile products that help the community and contribute innovation in this field. My degree from this institution has always made a significant impact in my career and that will always be a proud achievement for me.

What did you want to become when you were a child?

As a child, I always wanted to do something with structures and designs. And for this reason, I always wanted to become an engineer and pursue interior architecture as my career. Growing up, I spent my free time drawing, creating small model art and design, and developing building structures using craft materials. I spent hours and hours making and building all of this to scale for the right size and proportions, with repeated measurements and accuracies. This combination of materials, design, structures and engineering naturally led to me to choose a career in textiles.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to travel with my family, play with my kids, cook, watch movies and relax. My other spare time hobbies include painting, creating artwork and structural designs, mostly abstract designs for home decor.