Photo courtesy of Marc Hall/NC State University
Jesse Jur, associate professor in the department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science (TECS) at NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles, has been named a 2018-19 University Faculty Scholar by Chancellor Randy Woodson. He is one of 20 early- and mid-career faculty selected for their dedication to serving the university community and their respective fields through scholarship, research and engagement.
“Dr. Jur is a game-changer at NC State, an outstanding academic influence in our world and a great mentor for our students,” said Distinguished Professor of Textile Engineering Jon Rust, associate dean for academic programs at the Wilson College of Textiles. “I have watched Dr. Jur’s career with admiration, pride and anticipation of great things to come. A strategic thinker and innovative leader, Jesse consistently finds ways to make the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State University a better learning experience for our students and a stronger resource for all our constituents.”
A 2007 alumnus of the university’s Materials Science and Engineering program, Jur has been a professor with TECS since 2011. He has mentored dozens of students; won several awards including the 2015-16 NC State Outstanding Extension Service Award, the 2015 NC State Research and Innovation Seed Funding Award, and the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund Award in both 2012 and 2015, among others; and has demonstrated a deep commitment to university service.
“I’m very proud of the recognition that this honor provides me and I’m humbled by the nomination that my peers have given me and their recognition of the fact that I’ve worked really hard,” said Jur. “I try to create a good culture within my research program and to provide as good of an education as humanly possible to students…From a research perspective, I’m only as good as the students in my research group; if they weren’t creative and they weren’t hard working, then I wouldn’t have gotten this. The same thing goes for the students in the classroom; if they weren’t hard working and if they didn’t have a complete buy-in to the things that we try to do here, then I definitely wouldn’t have this opportunity. I feel most proud about the fact that I’m able to share that with them.”
The son of an engineer, Jur grew up with a deep interest in science. His parents encouraged he and his six elder siblings to get creative with their science projects; in the eighth grade, he explored making plastic from crab shells.
“The research that inspired me was done by Dr. Samuel Hudson, who is a full professor here in the Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science program,” he said. “I remember coming up in 1995 and I visited Dr. Hudson as a lowly, didn’t-know-anything high school student and he gave me materials…Different faculty have inspired me as I was doing my own research, [and] they all provided me the right resources to be successful.”
Jur earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2001, his M.S. in the same from The Johns Hopkins University in 2003, and his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering in 2007 from NC State, which he chose because of the opportunity to participate in applied research.
“One of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to stay here — and have continued to stay here — is the fact that it’s such a great institution to work at,” he said. “Everyone is collaborative. There’s a really good spirit and energy amongst the faculty and students and staff at the university, and the university really invests a lot of resources into providing faculty and student success.”
Although he knew from the beginning that he wanted to join the NC State faculty post-graduation, he did not originally see himself studying textiles.
“When I was doing my Ph.D., when I was a postdoc in materials science, when I was a research faculty in chemical engineering, if you had told me that I was actually going to do research in textiles and form my identity around that, I would have called you crazy,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about textiles; but when I started to explore it, I saw the wealth of opportunity that textiles had and the road map for textiles resurgence in our local area — and the importance of that resurgence in our local area — and I felt that it was a very exciting thing to be part of.”
Research and scholarship productivity
Jur heads the Nano-EXtended Textiles (NEXT) Research Group, which focuses on smart textiles and wearable technology. The group includes full time staff as well as undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students and postdocs.
“His team comprises people who arrived at NC State from all corners of the world, international and US citizens, men and women, young and not so young; all enthusiastically working together as a team,” said Rust. “It’s really inspiring to watch his diverse research team operating independently while also displaying teamwork; encouraging and assisting one another in overcoming problems and reaching their goals.”
Two of these former students have started Funxion, a start-up focusing on self-powered wearables; he serves as a member of the company’s board of directors. Since launching, they have received National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding and most recently competed and won the Cyclotron Road startup competition.
Jur has garnered more than $6 million in research funding from 13 companies, four government agencies, four different industrial consortiums and the university. He also contributed to the development of the NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), led by Dr. Veena Misra; he is a member of the leadership team as the thrust leader in the area of wearability and data.
“I’ve learned so much by the collaborations that I’ve had with colleagues within the ASSIST Center and that’s been really valuable to the development of my whole research team,” said Jur.
Through a grant linked to ASSIST, he helped develop a five-week experiential learning camp for middle and high school teachers.
“For three straight summers in our labs, Dr. Jur taught these teachers along with high school students about developing electronic textiles,” said Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Jeff Joines, TECS department head. “As part of the outcome, these teachers, along with Dr. Jur and his team, developed curriculum and activities for high school programs to teach. These teachers took these ideas and activities back to inspire their students who have presented their completed e-textile prototypes at an open house design competition held at NC State. The impact Dr. Jur had on these students was amazing — you saw their passions inspire them to develop products that could help the human race be better all while acknowledging Dr. Jur’s help and support.”
Over the course of his career so far, he has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers and has had 14 patents issued or filed.
Excellence in teaching and mentoring
“Dr. Jur’s teaching style can be summed up as project-based/problem learning education,” said Joines. “As an educator, Dr. Jur inspires the students to stretch and move beyond by critically thinking and developing solutions that are both effective and robust.”
Alongside Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Dr. Russell Gorga, associate head and director of undergraduate programs for the Textile Engineering program, Jur teaches Senior Design, a two-semester capstone class in which industry-sponsored teams of textile engineering and textile technology students tackle real problems.
“I want to prepare the students to be successful at the next stage of their life,” said Jur. “In [this course], the students have already been here for three years. They’ve already taken all of the core courses that would make them successful textile engineers or textile technologists. It’s my responsibility at that point to help them get to the next stage — how to be successful in the workplace, how to work on teams, how to let go of the common textbook-style education and utilize their skills. I like to say that I prep students for Day One.”
Over the past six years, Jur and Gorga have brought in nearly $1 million to support the course. Recent Senior Design teams have tackled 3D printed garments, canine bite pressure sleeves, hemp performance gear, industrial recycling network design, low microfiber release fabrics, wingsuit fabric design and more.
“Dr. Jur weaves his role as an educator and research scholar into service to industry and the development of processes and products that improve lives. He achieves this in part by focusing on building relationships,” said Dr. David Hinks, dean of the Wilson College of Textiles. “He has built a reputation as an industry partner who brings unsolicited funded projects to his research group and the TE/TT Senior Design course. In addition, he has developed a national and increasingly international reputation by, for example…serving on the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator advisory board. His dedication to service is exemplary.”
Jur has been working with several standards organizations, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, AATCC and the International Electrotechnical Commission, to define the standards for wearable electronics and encourage the market’s growth. He is past-chair of the Thin Film Division of the American Vacuum Society and is a member of several other professional organizations.
“Dr. Jur has the rare talent of being an all-round strong asset in merging teaching, mentoring, research, technology transfer and entrepreneurship, all while expanding and strengthening external stakeholder relationships,” said Hinks. “I look forward to seeing where Dr. Jur takes his career. He is a remarkable asset to NC State and epitomizes ‘Think and Do the Extraordinary.’”
About the University Faculty Scholars Program
The University Faculty Scholars program was established by the chancellor in 2012 to recognize and reward emerging academic leaders at NC State. Faculty members selected as University Faculty Scholars carry the title for the duration of their faculty appointment at NC State and receive an increase to their base salary; so far, 146 faculty have received this honor.
A committee of senior faculty reviews nominations submitted by the colleges. Assistant professors appointed for a second term, all associate professors and professors within the first three years of appointment at that rank may receive nominations. The committee evaluates nominees on their research and scholarship productivity, excellence in teaching and mentoring, and leadership in extension, professional societies and public service initiatives.
Previous winners from the Wilson College of Textiles include:
- Philip Bradford, associate professor in Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, 2017-2018
- Lisa Chapman, associate professor in Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, 2016-17
- Ahmed El-Shafei, professor in Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, 2015-16
- Renzo Shamey, professor of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, 2014-15
- Melissa Pasquinelli, professor of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, 2013-14
- Xiangwu Zhang, professor of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, 2012-13
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Written by Cameron Walker