The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Kurtz Receives Eli Lilly Travel Award

Irene Kurtz

Irene S. Kurtz

Irene S. Kurtz, a Ph.D. candidate in the research lab of Professor Jessica D. Schiffman from the Chemical Engineering Department, was one of nine recipients nationally to receive an Eli Lilly Travel Award. The award is sponsored jointly by the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Eli Lilly & Company to increase the participation of women in the chemical sciences. Funding provides female graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to travel to a national meeting and present their research.

Last March, Kurtz used her award to attend the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she delivered a poster presentation about her research entitled “Bioinspired Polymer Composites for Antifouling Surface Coatings.” In addition, her work was showcased at an awardee poster session and was recognized at the WCC Luncheon, an ACS Diversity Reception, and a WCC Open Meeting. In addition, Kurtz was invited to meet with Tom Connelly, executive director and CEO of the ACS, Christina Bodurow, a member of the ACS Board of Directors, as well as other ACS Board Members.

The Schiffman Lab engineers nano- to macro-structured materials for biomedical and environmental applications from antifouling surface coatings to nanofiber scaffolds for wound healing. Kurtz specifically designs and tests antibiofilm coatings that use physical or chemical means to repel or kill microbes. These antifouling coatings address biofilm formation without contributing to antibiotic resistance.

Kurtz graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Her undergraduate research experiences range from quantifying excess enthalpy and excess volume of binary systems of hydrocarbons and ionic liquids to repairing a high-pressure stoichiometric phase equilibrium apparatus. Additionally, Kurtz received a fellowship for undergraduate research in energy systems and processes, for which she investigated liquid/liquid equilibrium of ternary systems of ionic liquids, alkanes, and xylenes. (April 2018)