Blair Brettmann, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and School of Materials Science and Engineering, has won a 2020 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation.
The CAREER Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Brettmann’s research program seeks to understand how to design formulations and molecular interactions between materials to predictably control manufacturing and properties of polymer-containing products. Her research group aims to integrate early-stage research with design for manufacturing in order to allow for rapid material composition customization, similar to how 3D printing enables rapid customization of part geometry.
Brettmann’s CAREER award, including $567,000 over five years, will provide support for her research to design new manufacturing approaches to produce ultrafine fibers (those with diameters less than approximately five microns), using chemical interactions during electrospinning instead of high molecular weight polymers. This will enable manufacturing of a much larger variety of functional ultrafine fibers, including applications in wearable electronics, sensors, and advanced composites.
Her team will co-develop chemistry and process understanding, integrating the design process in a way that will decrease time to production when applied to industrial applications
In addition to funding research activities, the NSF CAREER Award also supports Brettmann’s educational outreach plans. She will provide project management training to engineering graduate students to develop their planning, organizational, and implementation skills, enabling them to tackle large, complex projects. She will also work with the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking (on the Georgia Tech campus) to teach the general public about the design of chemicals used in manufacturing.
In addition to the CAREER Award, Brettmann has won the 2018 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. She was selected by the U.S. National Committee as a 2019 Young Observer for the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) General Assembly and Congress. In 2020, she was selected to be one of the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Young Investigators for the American Chemical Society National Meeting.
Brettmann joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 2017.