Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science (TECS) professor Tushar Ghosh has been named the William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor in Textiles in recognition of his outstanding service to the Wilson College of Textiles and the broader textile industry.

“He has been an inclusive, enthusiastic and effective teacher…[and] advocate and mentor for undergraduate and graduate students,” said Wilson College of Textiles dean David Hinks. “He takes a keen interest in his students’ well-being, independent learning, individual professional development and success.”

Ghosh has been recognized for his commitment to teaching excellence with the Wilson College of Textiles Outstanding Teaching Award and was inducted into the North Carolina State University Academy of Outstanding Teachers. He was selected for the Circle of Excellence by the National Textile Center, and in 2007, he received the Founder’s Award from the Fiber Society for outstanding contributions to the science and technology of fibrous materials.

He has been a faculty member since he graduated from NC State in 1987 with a Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science. In that time, he has mentored more than 40 graduate students; in recognition of this work, Ghosh was recently selected as a finalist for the Graduate School Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Sydney and the Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay.

Ghosh has served as a consultant to industry and public institutions and has published more than one hundred scientific and technical papers in peer-reviewed journals, as well as many book chapters. He has also been integral to the development of the Wilson College of Textiles Textile Technology curriculum.

His current research centers on the integration of electronic capabilities in textiles — in particular, the fabrication and characterization of sensors and actuators involving polymer nanocomposites, electroactive polymers and biomimetic systems.

The William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor of Textiles was the first fully endowed distinguished professorship in the Wilson College of Textiles. It was established in 1986 to honor Bill Klopman (1921-2010), who served Burlington Industries as CEO and chairman of the board between 1976 and 1986, and to support the research of an internationally renowned faculty member in the field of textiles.

Ghosh is the second named William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor of Textiles, joining Klopman Distinguished Professor of Textile Materials Behnam Pourdeyhimi, associate dean for industry research and extension and director of the Nonwovens Institute.

Read more about Ghosh in our interview below, including his mentoring philosophy and his optimism for the field of textiles:

What drew you to the textile field?

I was very curious about mechanical things like bicycles and trains, and wanted to be an engineer. When it came to choosing a field of study, textile technology was not the first choice but…the discipline grew on me. I quickly became fascinated with the unique nature of their manufacturing, structure, performance and applications.

Take a moment to ponder how everyday textiles are produced by assembling zillions of little tiny fibers that can protect a first responder from hazards or make you look your best when needed. To appreciate the complexity of the processes, note that a square meter of a typical cotton fabric contains about a billion discrete fibers held together by friction only; no glues or fasteners. After so many years of learning about textiles, I am more optimistic than ever [about] the potential of finding solutions to many of our grand challenges using textiles.

What are some big questions you want your research to one day answer?

The primary focus of my research has been to explore the application of textiles beyond its traditional use for comfort and protection. In recent years, I have made the study of electronic textiles (or textiles with electronic capabilities) the central focus of my research. I have collaborated successfully with many colleagues [both] within the university and outside in cross-disciplinary research. Through these collaborative efforts, we have made significant contributions toward future polymer/fiber-based sensors and actuators for electronic textiles. I am particularly proud of our current work on textile-based soft sensors for amputee comfort. We are at a critical point in the research in electronic textiles and I am certain that soon we will begin to see practical and affordable e-textile products in healthcare, entertainment and many other fields.   

What do you like most about mentoring your students and/or your work at the Wilson College of Textiles?

The best part of being a faculty member in the Wilson College of Textiles has been the opportunity to interact with our students at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Maybe the most critical part of this interaction is mentoring. It is more than academic advising; mentoring is a personal, as well as professional, relationship. Mentoring involves helping a student develop into a successful professional. I believe I have been able to mentor by inspiring and challenging students to learn the fundamentals and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. Over the years, I have been fortunate to have some of the best students in my lab. I take every opportunity to help my students develop intellectual independence, [and] my greatest pride is in their success.

What do you do in your spare time?

I find working outdoors in my backyard garden relaxing. I also enjoy good movies.

Can you make a prediction about some future applications of your research?

As I alluded to earlier, a lot of my research is in the area of fiber-based electronics. I believe textile-based electronics will revolutionize many areas of our daily lives including medicine and healthcare, environment and energy.

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Written by Cameron Walker