With the help of Prof. Christopher Alabi, chemical and biomolecular engineering, our cracked cell phone screens may one day heal themselves. Alabi’s research focuses on polymers, molecules formed from smaller subunits that can be found in many aspects of our daily lives — ranging from almost any kind of plastic to the proteins in our bodies.
It was 1995, and a young William Dichtel had finished taking all the science classes available in his small high school in Roanoke, Virginia. His chemistry teacher, who happened to have a Ph.D., tutored the budding scientist in organic chemistry. “I went to college, took more classes in chemistry, and the rest is history,” Dichtel says. Today, Prof. William Dichtel, chemistry, studies how to build new organic materials that may have promising use in our daily lives, from more efficient batteries to highly sensitive explosive detectors. Apart from research, he also teaches organic chemistry and is involved in efforts to improve undergraduate science education.