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Our People

Meet One of the Newest Members of Our Wilson College Family: Madilynn Smith

Wilson College of Textiles

Madilynn Smith

  • Position: Chemistry Teaching Laboratory Manager
  • Department: Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science
  • Hometown: Franklin, Tennessee

What was your path to this position?

I grew up in a musical family in Nashville, Tennessee, but have called Raleigh my home for the last seven years. I received my undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Tennessee and minored in secondary education before becoming a fully licensed high school teacher. Not ready to end my formal education quite yet, I uprooted and moved to North Carolina in 2015 where I began my textiles journey.

I’m a two-time Wilson College of Textiles graduate. I earned a Master of Science in Textile Chemistry under the direction of Dr. Kotek in 2017 studying the ultrasonic polymerization of polyurethane and polyacrylamide. I continued on to earn a Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science in 2020 under the direction of Dr. Bryan Ormond working on a multi-level comparison of the performance of particulate-blocking firefighter hoods. 

During my time as a graduate student, I was selected as a Preparing the Professoriate fellow, awarded the Grady Hauser Houser Daniels Fellowship and received second place in the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Herman and Myrtle Goldstein Student Paper Competition. I also taught the PCC 302 lab, instructed the TMS 211 lecture course and served as a group leader for the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP).

After graduating, I worked as postdoctoral researcher at the NC State College of Natural Resources researching the aquatic biodegradation of flushable and cellulosic products in aquatic environments and researching enzymatic and chemo-mechanical treatments to improve the dewatering of paper. In 2022, I returned to the Wilson College as a postdoc for Dr. Ormond looking at exposure mitigation strategies and ensembles for fire investigators. 

Why were you interested in this position / in working at the Wilson College?

As a two-time alumna of the college, it was an easy decision to apply for the position upon hearing of Judy’s retirement. The college is such a warm and friendly place, and I love how everything taught in the PCC and TMS courses is so applied. 

It makes it more fun when you can teach about ionic bonding and then show students how it’s happening with a fluorescent pink dye! I have always loved to teach and interact with students, so this was a great position for me!

What are your duties on a day-to-day basis?

This fall semester I directly and indirectly managed 16 lab classes. I am responsible for making sure every instructor has their materials and supplies for the classes, ensuring the teaching assistants have all the resources they need to teach their lab classes, training and supervising the use of the microscopes we have, operating the weatherometer and providing outside analytical services as requested. 

Additionally, I teach a few lab courses myself. Each day can look a little different, but every week I know I will have 200+ students ready to learn walking in and out of my labs!

What is your favorite part of your job and/or working at the Wilson College of Textiles?

My favorite part of the job is working and interacting with the students. I love the college and it is a joy to be back in a predominantly teaching role while also supporting the groundbreaking research within the college.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, my husband and I are navigating life as new parents and hanging out with our fluffy little dog, Levi. You may also find us hanging out at our favorite weekend spot: Costco.