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Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) Research Experiences for Unergraduates

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Academic Level:
For most summer research programs, this is your upcoming status as of the fall. Always check with the individual program's website for details.

Undergraduates - First Year
Undergraduates - Sophomore
Undergraduates - Junior
Undergraduates - Senior

Note: this opportunity encourages applications from community college students.

The Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) is offering a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) designed to provide undergraduate students a chance to participate in industry-directed fundamental research opportunities in the fields of bioplastics and biocomposites. The students will gain hands-on experience with synthesis, processing, and characterization of biobased plastics and composite materials.

Each year, 10 students (recruited primarily from academic institutions where research programs in STEM are limited) will work on research conducted by the CB2, with 5 students conducting their research at Washington State University and 5 students doing their research projects at Iowa State University.

During the program, the students will participate in a series of bioplastics short courses, have responsibility for an independent research project performed with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and engage with leading industry experts from the Industrial Advisory Board of the CB2.

The students will have a shared, well-defined common focus on sustainable bioplastics and biocomposites that will enable a cohort experience with a common orientation in Ames, IA and debrief in Pullman, WA. The cohort will also be part of a larger community of scholars on both campuses, with the research results showcased at Washington State University in a final poster presentation and symposium.

Research will focus on five research thrust areas that will promote industry-wide acceptance of bioplastics and increase the use of sustainable materials. Each thrust area is listed below.


This thrust area will develop fundamental understanding of bioplastic synthesis and compounding, including fermentation and polymerization. This includes vegetable oil-based, biobased waxes, mononers, elastomers, poly(ester-amides), and sustainable approaches to advanced functional materials and polymer additives and feedstock production.


Knowledge of biocomposites, including fiber synthesis, biobased resin systems and biobased fiber systems, will be developed in this thrust. These areas include self-healing composites, fiber production from lignin, nano-technologies as well as biobased composites.


This thrust will focus on the specific requirements of biobased polymers and composites during vital processing operations. This will include melt processing, extrusion, and molding as well as secondary operations such as cutting, welding and coating.


This thrust will focus on commercialization of bioplastic products. Commercialization includes, but is not limited to, composting, product labeling and economic analysis. Part of the center's already existing system is an interactive life cycle assessment web-based software that allows users to easily analyze their current and future products. Click here to go to the software.


This thrust will study energy and mass transfer for employed processing techniques such as extrusion and injection molding. The long-term goal is to develop models based on fundamental principles that can be used across a wide range of sciences.

Program Dates: 5/28/2019 - 8/2/2019

Participating Institution(s):
(Click an institution to see all programs it hosts)
Washington State University (Lead)
Iowa State University

Program Materials:
 • Program Website 
movie  Program Video

This Program can be Described by:
Academic Disciplines:
Agricultural Engineering
Crop & Soil Sciences
Food Science & Nutrition
Materials Science & Engineering
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
STEM Fields

Biochemical Engineering
Bioenergy Crops
Biological Systems Engineering
Chemical Biology
Sustainable Engineering

Learn More and Apply!

This program is funded by:
National Science Foundation (NSF)

Page last updated 11/30/2018 8:01:05 AM
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