Programming the Properties and Degradation of Sustainable Polymers

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dr. Stephen Miller


University of Florida

Hand Lab 1144, 3:30 PMmiller

Abstract: Main-chain and side-chain functionality are critical to polymeric thermal properties and degradation behavior.  This presentation will describe synthetic routes for polymerizing bioaromatics and other biogenic cyclics to yield polymers with high glass transition temperatures or high melting temperatures.  Some of these monomers are already present in common biomass sources, including vanillin, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, and sinapic acid.  However, some monomers are not immediately available from biomass, but can be built via facile and scalable chemistry from other biogenic molecules.  These various novel thermoplastics will be discussed in the context of replacing specific fossil fuel-based packaging plastics.  The Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC, is led by the University of Florida and seeks to valorize Brassica carinata (Ethiopian mustard) into biofuels and higher value biorenewables. The carinata biomill can solve major challenges ranging from advanced aviation biofuels to natural food preservatives to bioplastic packaging.  Important bio-based chemicals from carinata include erucic acid (from the seed oil) and sinapic acid (from the seed meal).  Chemical strategies are explained for converting these bioproducts into Jet A fuel, food preservatives, and bioplastics with properties suitable for replacing polyethylene terephthalate or polystyrene.

Name:  Stephen (Steve) A. Miller
Department of Chemistry, University of Florida, USA

Bio:  In 1994 Stephen A. Miller received coterminal B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from Stanford University, where Robert M. Waymouth served as his undergraduate and M.S. Thesis advisor.  He then earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1999 with John E. Bercaw before conducting postdoctoral research with Nobel Laureate Richard R. Schrock at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during 2000–2001.  He held the position of Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M University from 2001 until 2007, when he accepted his current positions of Associate Professor of Chemistry and Member of the Butler Polymer Research Laboratory at the University of Florida.  His primary research efforts target the synthesis of biorenewable and degradable polymers that mimic petroleum-based plastics.  Novel synthetic methodologies have been applied to a variety of biogenic feedstocks, including sugars, triglycerides, lignin, and C1 feedstocks, yielding linear thermoplastic polymers with the potential to replace incumbent packaging plastics.  Moreover, these polymers are generally amenable to biodegradation or water-degradation, affording benign metabolites already present in nature.  He is a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer of U.S. Bioplastics ( and an alumnus of the Global Young Academy (

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