Graduate research assistant Sudhir Sharma, a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, came to visit Georgia Tech in the fall of 2010, where he was impressed with the size of ChBE and the many collaborative opportunities available. Upon admission, he worked towards a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering specializing in heterogeneous catalysis. Having not yet quenched his thirst for research, he was drawn to an interesting opportunity to work on a new class of materials—cellulose nano-fibers—with his advisor, Dr. Yulin Deng. The challenge was to develop applications that could potentially be industrially applicable in a short period of time. In January, 2012, IPST—now RBI—awarded him a PSE fellowship to work toward his PhD; his thesis title is Green Nanocellulosic Barriers. His work is focused on the development and characterization of barrier membranes made from nanocellulosic fibers for application as a green, renewable, recyclable, biodegradable packaging material.
Sudhir earned his undergraduate degree in Chemical and Materials Engineering from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, graduating in 2009 with first-class honors.
He is no stranger to successful competition. Sudhir was team leader for the ChemECar competition, a worldwide competition to design and build a carefully calibrated car to travel a precise fixed distance under a random given load. His team won the competition in New Zealand, and then second place at the international competition with the fastest car the competition had ever seen. Here at Georgia Tech, he won recognition at the Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Poster Competition in March of this year for “High-Performance Green Barrier Films from Thermal Treatment of Cellulose Nanofibrils.” This award came with a cash prize funded by the Institute of Paper Chemistry Foundation. Sudhir also won the 2013 forest products division award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Sudhir is a believer in the power of co-curricular activities. While at Aukland, he helped start a chapter of the Petroleum Engineering student association which now has over 100 members. Here, he serves as TAPPI student chapter president. “In this short time, I have been able to interact with many industry representatives and had opportunities to interact with other students,” he observes. “This helped a lot in learning about the research of other students within the chapter and what the current industrial research outlook looks like—most recently, during the visit from Suzano, where Dr. Vinicius explained the company’s research direction and the general outlook of the paper industry as well.”
Sudhir credits his RBI PSE fellowship with expanding his skills and understanding of high-level research and its application to industry. “I had the good fortune of working with many very intelligent, excellent researchers, both domestically and internationally, in the field, which helps expand my knowledge of fields related to my own research,” he comments.
After his expected graduation in Spring of 2015, Sudhir intends to work in industrial bioproducts research, developing next-generation bio/nano materials as viable replacements for petroleum-derived plastics and current polymers used in packaging.
Never one to sit idle, Sudhir played guitar for the chemical engineering grad student band – Particle in a Box—and also enjoys long-distance running and reading.