USM Polymer Professor Receives Prestigious Award from 3M Corporation

Dr. Xiaodan Gu, Assistant Professor in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)

Dr. Xiaodan Gu, Assistant Professor in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has earned a $45,000 Nontenured Faculty Award by the 3M Corporation to further his research efforts.

The award recognizes outstanding new faculty for their research, experience, and academic leadership. Each year, approximately 15 new awards are presented by 3M.

“The 3M Nontenured Faculty Award is widely recognized as a prestigious honor among all the junior faculty in polymer, materials, and chemical engineering. Receiving this award for our research group means a lot to our team,” Gu said.

“It is a great opportunity for our team to invest in a new idea in polymeric membrane to make separation of pollutant and water more efficiently,” he continued. “To bring this recognition back to Mississippi is a great testimony to the quality of the research and education USM now has.”

The 3M Nontenured Faculty Award was created more than 25 years ago by 3M’s Technical Community in partnership with 3Mgives’s Giving Program to invest in individuals who will lead university teaching and research programs in the future. The intent is to provide unrestricted financial support to help promising faculty receive tenure and contribute to their academic field.

Dr. Gu’s research focuses on soft electronic devices for health and energy applications as well as new membrane materials for efficient separation for clean water and carbon capture. His team combines data science, advanced morphological characterization tools, chemical synthesis, and processing, to improve the performance of next-generation soft electronics and membranes.

“It’s really exciting to partner with experts from the industrial sector at 3M to invest in high risk but high rewarding novel ideas for polymer membrane,” said Gu.

The group’s work will focus on studying the morphology of the new type of membrane that can be scalably made through a simple mechanical stretch to create nanoscopic crazes. Gu and his team could use this new technique to address issue retailed to cleaning up pollutants in wastewater, separating oil and water, supporting dairy production, and capturing carbon from atmospheres.

“Membrane technology may not be visible to any person through our daily life, but it is a 25-billion-dollar business sector. It is widely used in water purification, diary processing, low-temperature striation, biomedical artificial organs, gas separation, and battery and fuel cells,” said Gu.


Written by University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs on campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, at teaching and research sites in central and southern Mississippi, as well as online. Founded in 1910, USM is one of only 130 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” designation, and its robust research enterprise includes experts in ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and sport venue safety and security, among others. USM is also one of only 40 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance and music. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $600 million across the state. USM welcomes a diverse student body of approximately 15,000, representing 71 countries, all 50 states, and every county in Mississippi. USM students have collected four Truman Scholarships and 36 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while also leading Mississippi with 24 Goldwater Scholarships, an honor that recognizes the next generation of great research scientists. Home to the Golden Eagles, USM competes in 17 Division I sports sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). For more information, visit


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