Dr. Brian McFarland


Dr. Brian McFarland

My primary area of research is polymer organic chemistry, specifically frontal polymerization and microencapsulation.  Frontal polymerization entails the conversion of a monomer into a polymer via a localized exothermic reaction zone that propagates through the coupling of thermal diffusion and Arrhenius reaction kinetics.  In this process, the monomer and initiator are combined and a localized region of the monomer system is heated, producing a self-propagating front of polymerization that travels throughout the monomer system, leaving behind polymer.  Frontal polymerization offers several advantages over other methods of polymerization, such as reduced energy requirements, reduced processing costs, and the ability to synthesize polymers with unique morphologies.  A significant issue for applying frontal polymerization to real-world applications is the issue of pot life, i.e., how long can the initiator-monomer solution remain at room temperature before reacting homogeneously.  This can be addressed through separation of the system components through entrapment in microcapsules.  I am interested in synthesizing different types of microcapsule shells using different free-radical initiator cores, and investigating the effects on pot life, system reactivity, and mechanical properties.

I have also recently become involved in nutritional biochemistry research, specifically analysis of biomarkers in the body that are present in certain situations. Previously I have investigated the effects of glucose and starch consumption on cognition and communication, and am interested in building on the results of this study.  Additionally, I am engaging in a collaboration with researchers from biology, psychology, and computer science investigating the effects of video game play on gamers.  We are analyzing the levels of dopamine ( a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulation of the brain’s reward and pleasure centers) at different points of game play, and determining correlations between physiological and psychological responses.

Additionally, I am always interested in and open to student ideas, so if you have an idea feel free to come by and we can talk about it!


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