Colorado State University Assistant Professor of Chemistry Garret Miyake envisions a world with a more sustainable future. His work in synthetic polymer science is helping to bridge the gap between that future and today’s reality.
His accomplishments in polymer research have not gone unnoticed, most recently earning him the distinguished title of Cottrell Scholar for his project, titled “Design Principles of Strongly Reducing Visible-Light Organic Photoredox Catalysts.”
Collaboration in the name of science
The Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s Cottrell Scholar Award acknowledges only the most outstanding early-career scientists who demonstrate a dedication to both research and academic leadership. The program aims to foster an environment of collaboration between leading American research universities and undergraduate institutions.
The $100,000 award will help fund the research and educational initiatives of the Miyake Research Group in the College of Natural Sciences. The synthetic polymer group consists of undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral scholars and faculty in the Department of Chemistry.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be a Cottrell Scholar because it recognizes not only research but also the teaching mission,” Miyake said. “The most important part of my job is training the next generation of scientists and giving them the skill sets to successfully address the problems of the future.”
Building a better future
The goal of Miyake’s project is to develop new and sustainable ways to create currently energy-intensive materials. In particular, his group aims to use solar energy to drive the chemical reactions that bind molecules to create plastics.
“Plastics are really important to society, but it takes a lot of energy to make them,” said Miyake. “We are interested in finding new, energy efficient ways to produce them.”
His group is also working to create a heat-reflective window coating that has the potential to prevent infrared radiation from entering homes. This application of his work could drastically reduce pollution by decreasing cooling loads for structures in warm climates.
Hooked on chemistry
Miyake earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from CSU and completed his postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology. The Miyake Research Group started at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he began his professional career in synthetic polymer science.
Miyake returned to CSU in 2017 and brought The Miyake Research Group with him to continue work in the state-of-the-art chemistry research building. Last fall, Miyake also received the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymer Chemistry Mark Young Scholar Award.
The 2018 Cottrell award was given to two dozen outstanding early career academic scientists from research universities across the United States. Miyake joins the ranks of two other CSU Cottrell Scholars, Professors of Chemistry Grzegorz Szamel and Jamie Neilson. Szamel received the honor in 1997 and Neilson in 2017.