Kate Stewart is currently doing her PhD with Professor Penlidis. She received two awards for her research work at two different conferences. One was for the best poster (one of three out of over 65 posters) at the prestigious Polymer Reaction Engineering Conference IX in Cancun, Mexico (May 10-15, 2015). The other was 2nd place overall (out of 60+ posters) in the poster competition at the Annual AUTO21 Conference in Ottawa, ON (May 26-27, 2015).
Kate’s research goal is to design polymeric sensing materials to be used in transdermal ethanol sensors. This goal forms a set of operating specifications that pose certain constraints on the type of sensing materials used in such a sensor. The type of sensor used (resistive vs. capacitive vs. micro-cantilever) further reduces the number of potential sensing materials. Therefore, looking at the chemical nature of ethanol, and determining how ethanol is likely to interact with a sensing material, polymeric sensing materials can be chosen and tailored to detect ethanol. A polymeric sensing material may be tailored through changing its backbone, its sidechains and functional groups, and/or by adding dopants (metal oxides). Using this approach has allowed her to identify a multitude of good sensing materials for ethanol (e.g., polyaniline, poly (o-anisidine), etc.)