First International Symposium on Materials from Renewables Held at NDSU

NDSU is hosting an event attracting international researchers.

They’re sharing their findings with each other on ways to create more ecofriendly materials.

The event called the International Symposium on Materials from Renewables is the first of its kind to be held at NDSU.

The meeting consists of a series of lectures given by researchers from the states and abroad, but they all share a common goal– to create alternatives to non–renewable resources.

Academics and students gather in the Century Theater at NDSU’s Memorial Union to hear the latest findings from top researchers seeking new materials to replace things like fossil fuels.

“Well there’s been a lot of interest as the price of petrochemicals when it was going up and people do know that at some point our petrol chemical resources will be exhausted,” says Dean Webster, a professor at NDSU who helped coordinate the event.

The lecture they’ll be hearing is given by Stephen Miller from the University of Florida.

Miller’s research primarily focuses on finding new plastics.

He wants to create a material that can degrade in ocean water to cut down on pollution.

“If we continue to make plastics at the current rate and they continue not to be recycled at the current rate we will fill up our oceans and make them very dangerous for the life that’s out there,” says Miller.

Miller says there are three main traits a substance needs to be an effective replacement, it has to be renewable, needs to be cheap, and it should be able to degrade in a ten-year period.

As of now he seems to have tackled two of those.

“So the idea now is largely to get the costs down to be competitive with those of petroleum based plastics,” Miller says.

Attendees today didn’t only leave with the new knowledge they gained from the lectures, they also made connections.

A big part of today’s event was networking.

“We’re here to learn about each others’ research. We have lots of open time scheduled in the meetings so we can discuss with each other the research that we’re doing,” Webster says.

And it’s not just for the professionals; students attending this event have opportunities to meet possible future employers.

NDSU doctorate student Adlina Paramarta says, “Since I’m a last year graduate student it’s a great opportunity to network with other professors. Like maybe there’s an opening or career opportunity. Who knows maybe I’ll become a post doc with one of these amazing professors.”

The symposium continues through tomorrow, coming to an end at 4 pm.

Next year the event will be held at the University of Georgia.