Mississippi student named to watch list for national award

Published 6:15 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

University of Southern Mississippi (USM) graduate student Zhiqiang (Sean) Cao was recognized as a finalist to compete for the Frank Padden Award in the American Physical Society, under the Polymer Physics division. Cao works with Professor Xiaodan Gu in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at USM.

The Frank Padden Jr. Award is a prestigious honor presented by the Division of Polymer Physics (DPOLY) of the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes exceptional research contributions and accomplishments in the field of polymer physics, and is named after Frank Padden Jr., who was a pioneer in the field and a former APS president.

Approximately 5-10 outstanding young researchers are selected each year as finalists for the award in the field of polymer physics. The honorees have demonstrated exceptional research achievements, creativity, and promise for future contributions to the field. The award criteria include the significance and originality of the research contributions, as well as the quality of the research and its potential impact on the field of polymer physics.

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As a finalist for the award, Cao presented his research efforts at the APS Meeting hosted in Las Vegas earlier this month. He was selected due to his unique role in characterization the structure and dynamics of conjugated polymers using neutron scattering techniques. He has distinguished himself in this area through exceptional research and innovative contributions.

Cao’s research has great potential for use in a wide range of applications, including solar cells, organic light-emitting diodes, and electronic devices. His work has been published in several high-impact journals and has garnered attention from the scientific community.

“I am thrilled to hear that Sean’s outstanding work in the field of organic electronics has been recognized by the American Physical Society’s Division of Polymer Physics,” said Gu, who serves as Cao’s thesis advisor. “Sean’s research has made significant contributions to the development of high-performance plastic electronics through a relational design approach. As his advisor, I am incredibly proud of his achievements.”

Added Gu: “Sean’s research has the potential to revolutionize the way we use electronics in consumer products, green energy harvesting, and health monitoring. The lightweight and flexible nature of plastic electronics, coupled with their low cost, could make them accessible to a wider range of applications than ever before.”

Cao’s work is currently supported by Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Award Number DE-SC0022050, neutron scattering science.