Editor’s note: IonE’s nearly 70 resident fellows — faculty with appointments throughout the University of Minnesota system who come together here to share ideas, inspiration and innovation across disciplinary boundaries — are among the shining stars of IonE’s signature approach to addressing global grand challenges. Over the course of the next year, this series will introduce our diverse resident fellows in their own words. Here we interview IonE resident fellow Marc Hillmyer, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the College of Science and Engineering. Let the conversation begin!
What environmental challenge concerns you most?
Nonrenewable plastics that contribute to land and water pollution. And the global water crisis.
Which of your projects addresses these concerns?
I lead a team of researchers in the Center for Sustainable Polymers working on efficient and precision conversions of renewable raw materials into innovative polymeric products that outperform the current suite of nonsustainable polymers from performance, environmental and cost perspectives.
Who was your most influential mentor?
My Ph.D. mentor Robert H. Grubbs at Caltech and my postdoctoral mentor Frank S. Bates at the University of Minnesota.
What’s the most useful thing in your backpack?
A USB drive (with some free space on it)!
What makes you happy?
Getting grants, publishing papers (in that order), and learning a new (difficult) song on guitar.
What’s the most interesting thing you’re reading now?
One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson.