Dr. Jia Niu
Host: Dr. Huang
Abstract: Synthetic polymers have fundamentally changed our society, but the accumulation of plastics in the environment and food chain has also led to a global crisis. A long-term goal of our research group is to develop novel sustainable synthetic polymers that are degradable, derived from sustainable resources, or possess a circular life cycle. In this seminar, I will discuss new strategies that enable precise control over the architecture, sequence, and microstructures of the main-chain degradable or depolymerizable polymers. These new sustainable polymers include degradable vinyl plastics, chemically recyclable polymers, and synthetic polysaccharides. Taken together, we hope these efforts will enable the synthesis and applications of novel main-chain polymers with tailor-made properties for a sustainable future.
Bio: Jia Niu is an assistant professor of chemistry in Boston College. Jia obtained a B.S. degree (2005) and a M.S. degree (2008) from Tsinghua University in China. He then moved to the United States to pursue a PhD degree at Harvard University, working with Professor David R. Liu on the enzyme-free translation and directed evolution of synthetic polymers. After working as a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratories of Professor Craig Hawker and Professor Tom Soh at University of California, Santa Barbara, Jia joined the faculty of Boston College in 2017. Currently, Jia and his group are focused on developing sustainable plastics using biobased building blocks, understanding functional roles of sulfation patterns in bioactive macromolecules, and the directed evolution of genome editors. Jia is a recipient of ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award (2021), NSF CAREER Award (2020), NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (2019), and the Beckman Young Investigator Award (2019).