Ryan VanHorn

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Associate Professor

(814) 332-5352
Office Location: Doane-Chem C117
Box Number: 15
Faculty Website


B.S. (chemical engineering), Lafayette College; Ph.D. (polymer science), University of Akron

Office Hours

M 2:30-4:30 pm; T 1:30-4:30 pm; W 9-10:30 am

Research Interests

My research interests are in the physical characterization and structure-property relationships of polymers, including thermodynamics of phase behavior in tertiary, binary, and single-component systems. Typical characterization techniques include FT-IR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) and DSC (differential scanning calorimetry).

Current research focuses on the crystallization of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(caprolactone) (PEO-b-PCL) copolymers. PEO-b-PCL is a biocompatible, biodegradable copolymer. The degradation and mechanical properties are strongly dependent on the microstructure. Each block is capable of crystallizing; however, their melting temperatures are very similar. As such, other factors, such as casting solvent and thermal history, play an important role in the crystallization behavior. By controlling the crystallization behavior, it is possible to tailor these properties, either strength or degradation time/amount, for specific applications. By understanding the fundamental development of crystals in these materials, these concepts can be applied to other biocompatible, biodegradable copolymer systems.