Tiz Mekonnen

Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Research interests: Functional polymers, Sustainable polymers and nanomaterials, Polymer modification, Multiphase and multifunctional polymers, Polymer processing, Nanocomposites


My research focuses on the rational design of sustainable polymer and nanomaterial systems for a range of industrial, engineering, and advanced material applications. My group seeks to advance the sustainability and functionality of polymers, and our scope includes the following research areas listed below.


  • 2013, Doctorate, Bioresource Engineering, University of Alberta
  • 2009, Master of Science, Chemical Engineering, Addis Ababa University

Tiz Mekonnen


Sustainable polymer systems

The utilization of renewable resources for polymer production is receiving substantial interest. My group is interested in bio-based and renewable macromolecules (e.g. starch, cellulose, cellulose nanocrystals, lignin, biocarbon, tannins, and chitosan) as a feedstock to fabricate nanomaterials and a variety of sustainable materials including elastomers, plastics, hydrogels, engineering polymers, and nanocomposites. We employ various chemical tailoring strategies and polymer processing technologies to make these feedstocks more suitable for polymeric materials.

Polymer modification

The chemical modification of polymers is a post-polymerization process which is used for the following purpose:

  • to improve and optimize the properties of existing polymers
  • to introduce desirable functional attributes in the polymer

We focus on the design and development of modification processes/systems by utilizing Chemistry and Engineering tools. Some of the approaches we undertake to modify polymers includes reactive extrusion processes, hydrogenation, epoxidation, hydroxymethylation, and hydrosilylation of various polymers and elastomers/rubber; Grafting – from and grafting – to modification of polysaccharides and polymers; Reactive extrusion processes.

Nanomaterials and nanocomposites

My research interest in nanomaterials focuses on innovating novel techniques for the synthesis, modification, characterization, and applications of renewable polymer-based nanomaterials. I have targeted functional nanomaterials with attributes for antimicrobial carriers, UV shielding properties, corrosion inhibiting additives, oxygen scavenging films, superhydrophobic coatings, and dipped rubber goods. A critical challenge in nanocomposite research is to translate the exceptional nanoscale properties of nanomaterials to the macroscale, which relies on the dispersion of nanomaterials, selection of matrices, and optimization of composite microstructures. Various load-bearing natural composites such as teeth, turtle and eggshells, bones, and wood exemplify the importance of order and hierarchy starting at the nanoscale to tangible macroscopic levels. Drawing from these inspirations, my team aims to achieve similar multiphase and multifunctional polymeric materials via appropriate polymeric matrix selection along with composite architectures to ensure the multi-parameter property optimizations for corresponding applications. We develop nanocomposites based on cellulose nanocrystals, lignin nanoparticles, fumed silica, nanoclays, nano-biocarbon, carbon nanofibers, and graphene.

Polymer processing and application development

My research in polymer processing is focused on polymer blend morphology development and stabilization with a focus on multiphase renewable polymers. We target addressing the challenges associated with microstructure processing properties of polymer blends and their stabilization. We specifically target using chemistry and polymer processing tools to optimize the dispersion of nanoparticles in various single and multiphase polymer matrices for functional applications. We work with industrial collaborators and support application development efforts in packaging materials, lightly cured rubber latex products (e.g., gloves, condoms), highly cured rubber products (tire treads, shoe soles, conveyor belts), barrier films, coatings and paint, adhesives, engineering composites with functional attributes.


  • Esmizadeh, E., Cheng, B., Jubinville, D., Ojogbo, E., Seto, C. Tzoganakis, C., Mekonnen, T. Can medical-grade gloves provide protection after repeated disinfection? ACS Applied Polymer Materials. 2021, 3, 1, 445454.
  • Trinh, B., Ogunsona, E., Mekonnen, T. Thin-structured and compostable wood fiber-polymer biocomposites: fabrication and performance evaluation. Composites Part A. 2021, 140, 106150,
  • Mekonnen, T., Haile, T., Ly, M. Hydrophobic Functionalization of Cellulose Nanocrystals for Enhanced Corrosion Resistance of Polyurethane Nanocomposite Coatings. Applied Surface Science. 2021, 540(1) 148299.
  • Saikirshnan, S., Jubenville, D., Tzoganakis, C., Mekonnen, T. Thermo-mechanical degradation of polypropylene (PP) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) blends exposed to simulated recycling. Polymer Degradation and Stability. 2020. 182, 109390.
  • Ogunsona, E., Mekonnen, T. Multilayer assemblies of polysaccharides - polymer films for enhanced oxygen barrier packaging applications. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 580, (2020), 56-67.
  • Blanchard, R., Ogunsona, E., Hojabr, S., Berry, R., Mekonnen, T. Synergistic crosslinking and reinforcing enhancement of rubber latex films with cellulose nanocrystals for glove applications. ACS Applied Polymer Science. 2020, 2(2), 887898.
  • Mekonnen, T. Behabtu, N., Lenges, C. Enzymatic Polymerization Derived Engineered Polysaccharides as Reinforcing Fillers of Ethylene vinyl acetate. Carbohydrate Polymers. 241 (220) 116252.
  • Ojogbo, E. Ward, V., Mekonnen, T. Functionalized starch microparticles for contact-active antimicrobial polymer surfaces. Carbohydrate Polymers. 229 (2020) 115422.
  • Ogunsona, E.O., Panchal, P., Mekonnen, T. Surface grafting of acrylonitrile butadiene rubber onto cellulose nanocrystals for nanocomposite applications. Composite Science and Technology. 184 (10) 2019, 107884.
  • Ogunsona, E.O., Muthuraj, R., Ojogbo, E., Valero, O., Mekonnen, T. Engineered nanomaterials for antimicrobial applications: A review. Applied Materials Today. 18, 2020, 100473.
  • Panchal, P., Mekonnen, T.* Tailored Cellulose Nanocrystals as a Functional Ultraviolet Absorbing Nanofiller of Epoxy Polymers. Nanoscale Adv., 2019, 1, 2612-2623.
  • Ojogbo, E., Blanchard, R., Mekonnen, T. Hydrophobic and Melt Processable StarchLaurate Esters: Synthesis, StructureProperty Correlations. Journal of Polymer Science Part A: Polymer Chemistry. 56, 26112622
  • Trinh, B., Mekonnen, T. Hydrophobic esterification of cellulose nanocrystals for epoxy reinforcement. Polymer. 2018; 155, 64- 74.


  • Mekonnen, T., Ogunsona, E., Blanchard, R., Hojabr, S., Berry, R. Cellulose Nanocrystals as Zinc Oxide Dispersants in Rubber. United States Patent Application No. 82/449217 filed on February 24, 2019.
  • Lenges, C., Mekonnen, T. Latex Compositions Comprising Polysaccharides. Application number: PCT/US2018/047940; Patent no: WO/2019/046123. Published March, 2019.
  • William Bardosh, Ryan McKenzie, Tizazu Mekonnen, Manoj Nerker, High performance polymer filament for 3D printing. TerraVerdae BioWorks Inc. US patent filed. (Oct. 2014). WO2016058097 A1.
  • William Bardosh, Ryan McKenzie,Tizazu Mekonnen, Manoj Narkar, Misha Rodriguez. Bioactive biopolymer films and coatings. TerraVerdae BioWorks Inc. US patent filed. (Sept 2015). WO2016058096 A1.
  • Tizazu Mekonnen, Natnael Behabtu, Christian Lenges. Rubber compositions comprising polysaccharides Provisional patent filed. E.I. DuPont. United States Patent Application No. 62/414069 filed on October 28, 2016 and which is identified as Case Number CL6572-US-PSP.
  • Tizazu Mekonnen, Natnael Behabtu, Christian Lenges. Rubber Compositions Comprising Polysaccharides Provisional patent filed. E.I. DuPont. United States Patent Application No. 62/447,506 filed on January 18, 2017 and which is identified as Case Number CL6572-US-PSP.
  • Tizazu Mekonnen, Natnael Behabtu, Christian Lenges. Preparation of rubber nancocomposite masterbatches. Provisional patent filed. E.I. DuPont. United States Patent Application No. 62/527369 filed on June 30, 2017. Case Number CL6605-US-PSP.
  • Kate Opper, Natnael Behabtu, Tizazu Mekonnen, Christian Lenges. Enzymatically synthesiszed nanoparticle fillers in polyurethane foams, coatings and TPUs. Provisional patent filed. E.I. DuPont. United States Patent Application No. 62/449218 filed on January 23, 2017 and which is identified as Case Number CL6535-US-PSP