• Matt_s Swirls

Shruti Rattan

Senior Engineer (R&D) at DuPont

I grew up in the capital city of New Delhi, India, where I also pursued my undergraduate degree with a double major in Polymer Science and Chemical Engineering from Delhi Technological University (erstwhile Delhi College of Engineering). I worked with Prof. Deenan Santhiya for my undergraduate thesis project in the exciting area of bio-inspired polymer nanocomposites for electronic applications. Post completion of my undergraduate degree, I joined the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore as a research scholar to work on the synthesis and characterization of new polymer materials for biomedical applications. I was co-advised by Prof. Giridhar Madras and Prof. Kaushik Chatterjee. My research experience at IISc was instrumental in cultivating a strong interest in graduate studies in the field of  Polymer Science and Engineering.

UMass PSE is world-renowned for its polymer research. The comprehensive course curriculum and the opportunity to be a part of the high-quality research being conducted there attracted me to the program. Some of the unique features of the program that set it apart from others include the advisor selection process that allows incoming graduate students to engage with professors and current graduate students during the first semester. The department provides financial support to the students as they make a well-informed decision regarding their area of research and their Ph.D. advisors. Research assistantships are offered to all Ph.D. students and there is no teaching requirement as PSE does not have an undergraduate program. This allows students to focus all their efforts primarily on research. Senior Ph.D. students have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants of laboratory courses for first-year Ph.D. students. The department houses highly sophisticated instrumentation and facilities promoting cutting edge scientific innovations. Another exceptional aspect of PSE’s graduate program are the targeted industry recruitment drives for the upcoming graduates. During these drives,  major companies working in Polymer/Materials Science conduct informational, networking, and recruitment sessions in the department to hire PSE students. The department also offers interactive interview preparation and resume review sessions led by Dr. David Waldman.

I feel fortunate to have learned the fundamentals of polymer science from the exemplary faculty members of PSE during my first-year coursework. I continue to apply the scientific fundamentals I imbibed during my time there in my current role as a scientist at DuPont. The interdisciplinary nature of research at PSE covering a wide spectrum of topics in polymer physics, chemistry, and engineering equips graduate students with strong technical knowledge and a unique skill set that prepares them for successful careers both in academia and industry. Although Ph.D. students pursue their dissertation with a special focus on a topic in polymer chemistry/physics/engineering, graduates from PSE are groomed as versatile polymer scientists making them strong hires for the industry.

At PSE, I was trained in implementing advanced characterization methods that help exceed the expectation of our customers at DuPont by resolving product performance issues with new scientific solutions. Weekly seminars given by eminent research scientists from all over the world were an enriching experience keeping us abreast of the emerging trends in polymer science. In addition to the rigorous course curriculum, the people of PSE including faculty members, staff, fellow and senior graduate students were very approachable, making it a nurturing place to build my scientific career.

I had the privilege to have Prof. Alfred J. Crosby as my advisor. His mentorship allowed me to fulfill my full potential at PSE and made my Ph.D. a truly enjoyable experience. Prof. Crosby has instilled in me a true passion for soft materials mechanics and has trained me in the rigors of scientific research. Under his supervision, I led successful collaborations with biomaterial scientists, biophysicists, and biologists from across the nation. Prof. Crosby’s enthusiastic scientific spirit, integrity, and warm-hearted personality are just a few qualities that continue to inspire me.

At PSE, I developed lifelong friendships that gave me the courage to sustain the ups and downs of life in graduate school. I remember first walking through the doors of Conte as a young, naive first-year student fairly new to the field of polymer science and academic research. A year and a half ago, I graduated by inheriting an extraordinary wealth of knowledge, and for much of it, I have PSE to thank for.


“The struggle to leave the cocoon is what strengthens the butterfly’s wings so she can fly. I am about to become something beautiful.”

Tricia Stirling, When My Heart Was Wicked