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Teaching and Research in Polymers & Coatings at North Dakota State University.

The Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at North Dakota State University goes back to 1904-1906, when the first paint chemistry course was offered as part of the chemistry curriculum. Grants from Sherwin-Williams, Glidden, ADM, General Mills and other companies poured into the program. Dr. Ladd, the first NDSU chemistry professor, started research in paint chemistry. He also helped write the first composition of materials laws for paints in North Dakota. The activities in paint chemistry research continued at NDSU from that date and lead to the establishment of the Department of Polymers and Coatings in 1971. Today the department has the only Ph.D. program focusing on coating science in the U.S. With both federal government and corporate research support, the faculty currently directs and performs research at a rate of approximately $3 million per year.

In September 2004, our name was changed to Coatings and Polymeric Materials from Polymers and Coatings. The faculty recommended the name change to more accurately reflect our course content and research interests.

In September 2005, we will be celebrating our 100-year anniversary as a department from the first paint and coatings chemistry class taught at NDSU by Edwin Ladd.

In 2002, the department relocated to an impressive new facility in the NDSU Research and Technology Park, where teaching and research activities at the undergraduate and graduate levels in C & PM are booming. In the last decade we have graduated more than 100 M.S. and Ph.D. students, who have a significant impact on the direction and future of coatings science and businesses. Their contributions are affecting not only national education, but also the global economy.

The Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at NDSU is mainly a graduate level department, granting a Ph.D. in Coatings and Polymeric Materials Science or Chemistry and an M.S. in Coatings and Polymeric Materials Science or Chemistry. The undergraduate degree requirement for admission to the C & PM Graduate Program is no longer just a B.S. in Chemistry; the graduate program is open to those with a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and/or Engineering, or related science and engineering degrees such as Physics and Mechanical Engineering. A Coatings and Polymeric Materials option is offered for undergraduate majors in Chemistry, as a closely related option for majors in Mechanical Engineering.


The department has developed a range of interactions with the coatings industry. The focus of many of these relationships is the department's Industrial Advisory Board. The IAB meets annually with the department. Together they bring a broad range of backgrounds to bear on departmental issues. The IAB reviews and makes recommendations on the C & PM program curriculum, which helps with technical trends in the field, and brings to the forefront student needs and the quality of their preparation for future employment. This is a vital, extensive, and integrated program that affects everyday activities that are key to the NDSU C & PM program.

While graduate education and research represent one level of activity, undergraduate education is a top priority at NDSU. Enrollment in coatings courses averages 20-30 students each year for our undergraduate classes. A major attraction to undergraduates is our scholarship program, which exceeds $20,000 a year. Scholarship sponsors include: Coatings Industry Education Foundation, Ira R. Messer Award, George A Nichols (endowed by DeSoto), Northwestern Society for Coatings Technology, Carlton L. Rydstrom, Sr. Memorial, Tnemec Co. and its representatives supporting the Albert C. Bean, Sr. Foundation, Ernest T. Trigg Scholarship and Joseph A. Vasta Memorials (vested through CIEF), Valspar Foundation, Wicks Fund, Rheineck Memorial, and the Lowell F. Wood Fellowship.

Bret Chisolm, Senior Research Scientist, at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering at NDSU, joined the faculty as an adjunct professor, and will hopefully be taking on graduate students by fall semester 2005.

In September 2005, we will be celebrating our 100-year anniversary as a department of the first paint and coatings Chemistry class taught at NDSU by Edwin Ladd.

NDSU e-mail addresses have been shortened, eliminating the "nodak." The e-mail address format changed from to

The C & PM Department also offers continuing education with our short courses held every summer. Our 2005 Coatings Science Course will be held June 5-17 on the NDSU campus in Fargo, ND. These courses continue a tradition of providing excellent intensive training in coatings science for industrial and government scientists with a technical background, but no training in the coatings field.


Prof. Gordon Bierwagen (Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Iowa State University), who joined the department in 1989 after 20 years of industrial experience, continues his duties as Managing Editor of the Progress in Organic Coatings journal. Along with Prof. Dennis Tallman (Chemistry), Dr. Bierwagen directs studies of aircraft coating durability in simulated exterior and corrosive environments and replacement of chromates in aircraft coating systems for the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and directs work for the National Center on Preservation Technology and Training on Removable Corrosion Protective Coatings for Architectural Bronzes. He is also involved with a Combinatorial Materials Research program supported by the ONR and directed by Prof. Dean Webster (see page 82). Dr. Bierwagen currently has eight graduate students, with one Ph.D. and one M.S. having left his group this past year. This past year there have been eight refereed research articles either published or accepted for publication from Dr. Bierwagen's research group. In the same time period, Prof. Bierwagen has made 10 formal presentations on his research, and has had three poster presentations given by his graduate students. This past spring he visited China, going to several universities and industrial research centers, and in October he went to Australia with a graduate student to present a paper on their work on coatings for bronze statues.

Prof. Dean Webster has been a faculty member since 2001. He came to NDSU after 17 years in industry with Eastman Chemical Co. and Sherwin-Williams. Prof. Webster received his B.S. in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Materials Engineering Science from Virginia Tech. He currently has 10 graduate students and a post-doc in his research group. His current research projects involve the design of UV-curable laminating polymers for electronic applications, synthesis of novel crosslinkers, identification of structure-property relationships in thermosetting systems and preparation of nanocomposites for coatings applications. He has also been involved in the development of the Combinatorial and High Throughput Laboratory in the NDSU Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering. He directs the Coatings Science Short Courses held in June of every year on the NDSU campus. He is a member of the Professional Development Committee of the FSCT and participates in the International Coatings Technology Conferences held in conjunction with ICE.

Prof. Stuart G. Croll joined the faculty in 2000. He received his doctorate in polymer physics at the University of Leeds. He first worked in England, and then moved to the Division of Building Research in the National Research Council Canada. He later joined the Sherwin-Williams Co. before working with titanium dioxide pigments at Millennium Chemical Co. Prof. Croll investigates the weathering durability of coatings by examining the kinetics of degradation in order to estimate service lifetime. The research has both theoretical and experimental components. Spectrosopy, mechanical properties, and microscopy all contribute to understanding the connection between coating composition and performance. Statistical models and computer simulations are used to predict the kinetics of the deterioration in coating properties including corrosion protection. This work is supported by AFOSR and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Other work includes research on shrinkage stresses in UV cured coatings, investigating ultra-low permeability films, and occasional work on modern art preservation. His research group includes four graduate students and a research scientist. Several articles have been published on these topics in the past year and others are under review. Dr. Croll is a member of the JCT RESEARCH and Progress in Organic Coatings Editorial Boards and is an instructor in the FSCT short course on waterborne coatings technology.

Assistant Prof. Qun (Treen) Huo joined the C & PM faculty in fall 2001 after receiving her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Miami, and also doing two years of post-doctoral research at the same institution. Her area of research focuses on nanoparticle and nanomaterial synthesis and application studies. She currently has seven graduate students, one working on the synthesis and characterization of gold nanoparticles with a single surface functional group. Other research projects are the synthesis of porphyrin compounds to be used to develop ferromagnetic thin film materials with spintronics applications and the synthesis of hydrogen bonding surfactants for latex particle synthesis to improve the stability and rheology of waterborne coatings. One manuscript on the nanoparticle studies is in press at Chemical Communication. Dr. Huo has developed a new course titled "Topics in Supramolecular Chemistry" (C & PM 796). She is also a coordinator for graduate student recruitment and admissions for the department and is a guest editor for Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

Victoria Johnston Gelling joined CP & M as its first research faculty member in October 2001. Her current title, as of January 2003, is Research Assistant Prof. She was recently accepted into the Graduate Faculty and, therefore, can mentor graduate students. Dr. Gelling received her B.S. in Chemistry at University of North Dakota in 1996 and her Ph.D. from the Dept. of Chemistry in 2001 under Prof. Dennis Tallman on Corrosion Control and Electroactive Polymers. Her current research is focused on extending the lifetimes of army vehicles. Dr. Gelling has previously had projects funded by 3M, Sherwin-Williams, Technology Applications Group Inc., NASA EPSCoR, and Reactive Surfaces Ltd., as well as a being a Co-PI on two future grants for the department. In addition to her research activities, she is responsible for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program, undergraduate scholarships, undergraduate recruiting, and domestic graduate student recruiting. Dr. Gelling currently has one laboratory manager, two mechanical engineering undergraduate students, and one graduate student working in her group.

Further information about current activities and the NDSU C & PM Program can be obtained from Prof. Gordon Bierwagen, Chairman, Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105-5376.

Please feel free to contact us at: ndsu.polycoat@ndsu.nodak.ed; Voice: 701.231.7633; Fax: 701.231.8439; Website:
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Title Annotation:Coatings Programs
Publication:JCT CoatingsTech
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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