Graduate Student Highlight: William J. Gabler


Name:  William J. Gabler

Degree Program:  PhD Fiber & Polymer Science

Advisor(s):  Dr. Roger Barker

Degrees you have:  BS Chemistry, The College of William and Mary, 2009, MS Textile Chemistry, NC State

Where are you from:  Arlington, VA

What is your town / country like:   Small suburb next to a big city – Washington, DC- lots of museums, parks, sites to see, and one of the most diverse cities in the US.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University:  I thought the department was unique. I wanted to specialize in textiles and there is no better place for that.


Give a short description of your research:  I am evaluating a test standard used to test chemical protective clothing. We expose fabric swatches to toxic industrial chemicals and must measure the amount of chemical which permeates through. Sometimes there are many ways to implement the same test, so we are asking what other methods are out there? Which is the most practical? How can the standard be improved? Also, any test or model that a researcher uses has a set of assumptions. You’ve got to be aware of those assumptions and the situations where an overlooked variable might change the outcome.

How does your research impact the world?  I think my research is neat because it may lead to better protection for law enforcement and first responders. I work in the Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC) which is always testing materials to improve the comfort and protective performance of clothing. It is a unique place to work and it is just one example of all the great capabilities the college has to do research.

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:  I was awarded the 2013 NSF Scholar to support attendance at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry & Green Engineering Conference.  I have not published yet.

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State:  The College feels like home. I can walk out of my office and see the same friendly faces any day. There is always someone around to chat with. At the same time I like the University because it feels so vast. There is a great diversity of research going on. It is always surprising to learn what someone else is studying, across campus or just in the next room over. All the motivated students pursuing their goals inspire me. That is why I value the student organizations and resources dedicated to graduate students at the University- the Textile Association of Graduate Students, the University Graduate Student Association, and the Graduate School office helped me meet other students and feel engaged in the community.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how?  Dr. Bryan Ormond, a Research Assistant Professor who works in my lab, has been the biggest help. He taught me how to use the instruments, all the tricks of the trade, and how to approach and develop a research project. I also owe a lot to the senior students and everyone in my research group who welcomed me to the college and showed me the way.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study?  I like how textiles cuts across many disciplines. For instance, studying protective clothing requires you to know about physiology, toxicology, and analytical and materials chemistry along with the context of how the garments are designed and used.