Doctoral Student Wins Scholarship to Promote Advanced Polymer Composite Materials

Alper Kiziltas, a doctoral student in the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources, was named by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) as the recipient of the 2013–2014 PerkinElmer Graduate Scholarship.

The PerkinElmer Instruments Co., in conjunction with the Composites Division of SPE, sponsors the annual $2,000 scholarship dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of information on the science, engineering fundamentals and applications of advanced polymer composite materials. This year, more than 40 applications were reviewed and judged by six members of the SPE Composites Division.

Kiziltas will accept the award in April during SPE’s annual technical conference — ANTEC 2014 — in Las Vegas. His research, as described in the winning abstract, will be presented at the conference.

Kiziltas conducts research at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center under the supervision of Douglas Gardner, professor of forest operations, bioproducts and bioenergy, and in collaboration with Hemant Pendse, department chair of chemical and biological engineering.

Kiziltas is currently working in composite material development and processing, including nanocomposites and reinforced engineering plastics for automotive applications. His particular interest lies in the development of sustainable composite materials sourced from recyclable materials such as bio-based resins, cellulose, discarded carpet fibers and natural fibers that serve as reinforcements for bio-based micro- and nanocomposites. His work is supported by UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Alper’s research skills span over diverse fields such as nanomaterials, polymer processing, bio-based composites and sustainability. He is extremely innovative, unpretentious, collegial and cooperative,” says Gardner.

Kiziltas spent the 2013 summer and fall semesters working in plastics research at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich. While at Ford, he studied ways to extend the use of soy in polyurethane flexible foams for seat cushions and seat backs as well as sustainable nylon composites for under-the-hood applications.

Kiziltas is the author of more than 10 publications in journals such as Applied Nanoscience and the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. He has presented results of his research in several national and international conferences and has won more than 15 awards including Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) Graduate Scholarship Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the Dean’s Undergraduate Mentoring Award at UMaine’s 2013 Grad Expo, first place in the 2012–2013 SPE ACCE poster competition, and 2013 outstanding Ph.D. student in UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.