Graduate Student Highlight: Wenwen Zhang

Name:  Wenwen Zhang

Degree Program:  Fiber and Polymer Science

Advisor(s):  Dr. Stephen Michielsen

Degrees you have:  MS

Where are you from?   Shandong, China

What is your town / country like?

People always describe my hometown as the hometown of Confucius and Mencius. I personally think my hometown is one of the biggest agriculture based province maybe because I grow up on a farm. In United States, people greet each other by “How are you?” In my hometown, people greet each other by asking “Do you know the weather tomorrow?”  A rain day will bring a relaxing day in spring and a busy day in fall.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University?

As the top university in textiles, NC State attracted me when I was in Donghua University. I wanted to join COT to learn the functional textiles, especially on surface modification of fabrics using different material for different applications and then become an R&D Engineer.

Give a short description of your research:

My research focus on understanding polymer science in the process of creating functional textile materials.

How does your research impact the world?

My Master project bring low cost but long lasting antimicrobial textiles to people. My PhD project paved the science to build smart materials for protective cloth, filters, and water-oil separations.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?  If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level:


Citation: Zhang, W., Vinueza, N. R., Datta, P. and Michielsen, S. (2015), Functional dye as a comonomer in a water-soluble polymer. J. Polym. Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem., 53: 1594–1599. doi:10.1002/pola.27592

Abstract: I developed a method to attach colors (which is antimicrobial) to polymers, which can be used as a finishing agent of textiles or other surfaces to kill microbios and virus. The technology can be used to produce long lasting and no chemical release antimicrobial wipes and cloth, which is super meaningful for the doctors who are in a virus affected area because you don’t have to change the suit after each surgery. It will reduce the infection risk for medical providers.  At the same time, this technology has a very low production cost compared with other antimicrobial technologies due to the unique method we developed in lab.

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State?

I like every email sent out by Dr. Melissa Pasquinelli and Dr. Xiangwu Zhang about volunteering events or career opportunities. I like Dr. David Hinks’s passion and his supportive suggestions on my research. Also, the part I missed a lot is Kent’s weekly email.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how?

My adviser Dr. Michielsen is definitely the No. 1 on this list. He did most of his teaching by self-demo.  He taught me patience, tolerance, passion, integrity, and the right way to seek the question and then answers.  All of those paved a good way for my career as an R&D Engineer.

 What do you find most exciting about your field of study?

Textile is a great area to study for people who want to be a true engineer. It is a mixture of all other majors. By studying textiles, I get a great way to learn and apply each disciplinary. It is also a mixture of fundamental study and application study.  In a word, Textiles give me a “real” colorful life.