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Institute for Convergent Science. Ready. Set. Go.

Theo Dingemans, principal investigator for the Sustainable Access to Clean Water Creativity Hub, works alongside Anna Fraser, a PhD candidate in the chemistry department on November 6, 2019 on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The project aims to use the convergent science approach to bring different groups across campus together to tackle large, global issues (Photo By Jeyhoun Allebaugh).

Theo Dingemans (Photo By Jeyhoun Allebaugh)

The Edwards Family Fund for Excellence in Convergent Science was created by Arts and Sciences Foundation board member Rob ’89 and his wife, Leigh Edwards ’90, to help provide valuable startup resources for the Institute for Convergent Science, a signature initiative in the Campaign for Carolina. This funding has equipped the institute with many of its building-block needs as this innovative program helps to move ideas from basic research into transformative applications for society.

The Institute for Convergent Science is where Carolina’s globally renowned faculty meet the most complicated scientific, social and economic problems with deep expertise and a broad collaborative spirit. Faculty work
with peer researchers, industry experts, designers and entrepreneurs to solve problems through diverse perspectives that speed transformative ideas into the world.

An innovation framework, which drives the Institute for Convergent Science, is based on a simple concept: Ready. Set. Go. Just as a runner has to prepare mind and body at the starting line, a team with an innovative idea has to ready itself for the best launch. Then, during the development phase, the institute provides the tools, lab space and expert advice to help convergent science teams get set to develop their ideas into solutions that work in the world. The institute then helps teams go into the world — referring them for early commercial-stage support in the University’s KickStart Accelerator, where they launch their innovations.

Theo Dingemans, a professor in the applied physical sciences department, received an award from the Edwards Family Fund in the 2020–2021 academic year. This support enabled Dingemans to rent laboratory space and polymer processing and analytical equipment. Dingemans focuses his research on high-performance polymers that can withstand higher operating temperatures in microelectronics, battery technology, and automotive and aerospace composite applications. These new materials will allow people who build cars or airplanes to design newer, faster, cheaper, more fuel-efficient machines.

“The Rob and Leigh Edwards funding has allowed us to further develop UNC intellectual property,” Dingemans said. “This work has resulted in a new company that is introducing next-generation high-performance polymers into the marketplace. I am grateful for this support.”

Dingemans is also principal investigator for the Sustainable Access to Clean Water Creativity Hub team. He and his colleagues at UNC-Chapel Hill, along with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, are changing the way water is made safe for populations around the world.

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