Critical Assessment of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Technology

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 3:30pm

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3:30 MSU Bioeconomy Institute Auditorium (MAP)

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute speaker series is free, accessible and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Please call (517) 432-4499 for special accommodation. No RSVP required.

Patrick B. Smith, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Michigan Molecular Institute, Midland, Mich.

Critical Assessment of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Technology

There have been several attempts to commercialize poly(hydroxyalkanoate)s (PHA) over the past 3 decades, and commercial activities continue to this day. 

PHA materials are actually a class of 3-hydroxybutyrate copolymers made by bacterial fermentation. Engineered bacteria, such as e-coli, produce copolymers within their cell wall of up to 80 percent of their mass, having molecular weights of several million. The microbiology of these systems is truly remarkable. This seminar will focus on the properties of these materials, the hurdles impeding their commercialization and prospects for the future.


Patrick B. Smith is a research scientist at the Michigan Molecular Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Michigan State University and then spent the next 30 years with The Dow Chemical Company, rising to the rank of Fellow prior to his retirement in 2007. 

During his time with Dow, he served with Cargill Dow Polymers (which became NatureWorks) which launched the IngeoTM PLA line of products. After his retirement from Dow, he consulted with Archer Daniels Midland acting as ADM’s R&D leader for their joint venture with Metabolix that commercialized MirelTM PHA bio-polymers. He also supported ADM’s biobased propylene glycol product launch. 

He is currently a research assistant professor at Michigan State University, an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University and a member of the American Chemical Society (2005 Midland Section Chair). He received the Midland Chapter Sigma Xi Award in 1987 and the Midland Chapter ACS Award for Outstanding Achievement and Promotion of the Chemical Sciences in 1998. He was named an ACS Fellow in 2013 and received the ACS Ann Nalley Award in 2014. He is also the recipient of Dow Analytical Science’s V. A. Stenger Award in 1984 and the Dow Michigan R&D Scientists’ Award in 1994.

He has co-authored nearly 500 Dow technical reports and 85 publications, and holds two patents.

Smith’s research at MMI is focused on renewable materials synthesis, characterization and commercial applications. These materials include a series of biobased hyperbranched polymers targeted to controlled release delivery applications, the conversion of biobased polyols into value-added derivatives and the development of new biobased pathways to existing petrochemicals.

MSU Statewide Student Solar Design Contest: Deadline Oct. 31

Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 5:00pm

Michigan State University has invited students across the state of Michigan to design cost-effective, energy-efficient solar installations that can be integrated into a campus landscape.

sunMSU’s "Energy Innovation Award and Student Solar Design Competition" will recognize students who are advancing sustainability through their commitment to clean energy innovation.

Open to undergraduate and graduate students from any Michigan collegiate institution, this year’s Student Solar Design Competition will award $10,000 in total prize money for first, second and third place. Submissions will be evaluated for creativity, design, application and entrepreneurship—challenging participants to envision the next generation of energy innovation through the blending of art and science.

“To develop energy-saving solutions for a sustainable future, we are calling on the brightest collegiate minds in Michigan,” said Ann Erhardt, director of MSU Sustainability, who is one of this year’s competition judges. “We believe that interdisciplinary collaboration will ultimately lead to the most comprehensive and dynamic solutions, and we highly encourage students of varying areas of study to team up.”

Besides promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, the competition will connect students with industry professionals, creating unique, real-world learning experiences and networking opportunities.

For competition information, including resources and registration, visit

Competition registration will close on Oct. 31, 2015.

- Ann Earhardt and Kayla Iansiti, MSU Sustainability

Working with Universities on Export-Controlled Technology

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 3:30am

Wed., Nov. 11 - 3:30pm
MSU Bioeconomy Institute Auditorium (MAP)

Jamie Haberichter, Export Control and Trade Sanctions Specialist, Michigan State University

womanBefore joining Michigan State University, Haberichter served as the attorney/ project manager for the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, an online database of civil rights cases and documents, at the University of Michigan Law School.  

She also spent five years as assistant university counsel at the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, where she provided legal advice on healthcare issues. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, she was a litigation associate at the Chicago law firm of Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP, which is now known as Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where she primarily handled large commercial cases.

As MSU's export control and trade sanctions specialist, Haberichter reviews visa applications, contracts, and grants to ensure that MSU is in compliance with United States export control laws and regulations. She earned her bachelor of arts in economics from Michigan State University and her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.  

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The MSU Bioeconomy Institute speaker series is free, accessible and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Please call (517) 432-4499 for special accommodation. No registration required.