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Turner J. Alfrey Lecture Series

June 6, 2023 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT

Molecular Chemistry
Dr. Karen Wooley, Texas A & M

Karen L. Wooley, Professor, Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering – Texas A&M University

2023 Turner J. Alfrey Visiting Professorship Lecture Series
Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: MSU St. Andrews lecture theater located at 1910 West St. Andrews, Midland, MI 48640
Guest Lecturer: Dr. Katherine L. Wooley

Join us at St. Andrews for a full day of lectures with Dr. Karen Wooley of Texas A & M University.  Dr. Wooley and her associate, Dr. Ashlee Jahnke, will discuss topics related to work being done with the Wooley Research Group.

Karen L. Wooley holds the W. T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and is a University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University. She studied at Oregon State University (B.S., 1988) and Cornell University (Ph.D., 1993). The first sixteen years of her independent academic career were spent at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and she then relocated to Texas A&M University in July 2009. In addition to her academic positions, she is the co-founder and President of Sugar Plastics, LLC, and Chief Technology Officer of Teysha Technologies, LTD. Research interests include the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers derived from natural products, unique macromolecular architectures, complex polymer assemblies, and well-defined nanostructured materials. She has designed synthetic strategies to harness the rich compositional, regiochemical and stereochemical complexity of natural products for the construction of hydrolytically-degradable polymers, which have impact toward sustainability, reduction of reliance on petrochemicals, and production of biologically-beneficial and environmentally-benign natural products upon degradation – these materials are expected to impact the global issue of plastic pollution and address challenges resulting from climate change. Recent awards include election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015), National Academy of Inventors (2019), American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2020), and National Academy of Sciences (2020); she was also named as the 2021 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Professor of the Year.

A primary interest in the Wooley laboratory is the production of functional polymers from renewable sources that are capable of reverting to those natural products once their purpose has been served.  A long-standing focus has been the development of synthetic methodologies that transform sugars, amino acids and other natural products into polymer materials.  This approach allows for the production of functional polymers from renewable sources that are capable of reverting to those natural products once their purpose has been served.  This holistic life cycle approach is of importance from the perspectives of sustainable sourcing of materials feedstocks, while creating mechanisms for breakdown of the polymer materials after useful lifetime is complete, and providing for biological and environmental resorption of breakdown products.  The overall process impacts the need to address the increasing accumulation and associated hazards of plastic pollution from the environmental persistence of non-degradable, petrochemically-sourced polymer systems.  Moreover, inherent diversities of natural products provide opportunities to expand the scopes, complexities and properties of polymers, by utilizing fundamental organic chemistry approaches.

Register open now through Friday, June 2, 2023. This is a free event. Please share this event with others that may be interested in attending. 


  • 9:15 a.m. – Lecture #1
  • 10:15 a.m. – Lecture #2
  • Break 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 am 
  • 11:30 a.m. – Lecture #3
  • Lunch Break 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • 2:00 p.m. – Lecture #4
  • 3:00 p.m – Lecture #5

Lecture Summaries

The following series of presentations will provide a historical overview for the progression of synthetic methodology development from an emphasis on polymer structural control to the preparation of nanoscale materials to sustainable sourcing of feedstocks and building in mechanisms for degradability, with each scientific and technical advance having been driven by fundamental curiosity and designed for practical applications:

  • Lecture #1: An Overview and Thirty-year History of Wooley‘s research program – A dimensional evolution from constructing well-defined polymer architectures to assembly of nanostructured polymer materials, Karen L. Wooley
  • Lecture #2: Synthetic Strategies by Which to Afford Natural Product-derived Functional Polymer Materials that Address Health-Food-Energy-Water Challenges:  An emphasis on nanomaterials for environmental and biomedical applications, Karen L. Wooley
  • Lecture #3: Solving the Global Plastic Crisis Through Translation of Polymer Research to Real World Solutions:  Sugar Plastics, LLC and Teysha Technologies, Ltd., Ashlee A. Jahnke
  • Lecture #4: Design of Polypeptide Materials at the Intersections of Recyclable Batteries, Electronic Materials, and Biomedical Devices, Karen L. Wooley
  • Lecture #5: The Future of Polymer Materials as the World Progresses Along the Energy Transition – Dynamically-reconfigurable Systems to Unconventional Sourcing of Feedstocks:  A story of pivots to overcome adversities while pursuing ambitions, Karen L. Wooley

For event history, please visit the Turner J. Alfrey Visiting Professorship.


June 6, 2023
9:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT
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MSU St. Andrews
(989) 374-9900


MSU St. Andrews
1910 West St. Andrews
Midland, MI United States
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