New polymers professor gives introductory talk

In late 2018, Professor Andrew Slark joined the Department of Chemistry as a Professorial Fellow. He brought with him a background in the chemical industry, which he is now applying to the production of new polymer-based materials. As an introduction to the department, Andrew gave a seminar as part of the regular series run by our EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers Soft Matter and Colloids. PhD student Mike Harris was there, and wrote this report.

Andrew SlarkAndrew’s industrial career began early with a year in industry at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), where he worked with acrylic copolymers for use in resins and surface coatings.

After completing his PhD in polymer chemistry at the University of Loughborough, he returned to ICI, where he researched polymer coatings for 10 years before moving to the National Starch and Chemical Company. There he spent time as a project supervisor working on new hot melt polyurethane adhesives.

After seven years, he then moved jobs to work at Henkel, once again on polyurethane and acrylic polymer development where he spent a further 10 years. His final industrial position was at De la Rue international where he developed coated films for a year before the opportunity for the ESPRC Manufacturing fellowship became available at the University of Sheffield. The considerable amount of time Andrew spent in industry has allowed him to explore a huge range of concepts, technology and products, which culminated in a staggering 23 patent families under his name.

The industrial environment has allowed him many opportunities to develop, such as managing diverse teams for working on projects, collaborating with other companies and academics, and networking to have publications on his research produced.

Andrew came to Sheffield thanks to the ESPRC Manufacturing fellowship, which he believed would allow him to attain further personal and professional growth within the field of polymer chemistry. He currently has two PhD students, Simon Fawcett and Xander Praet, who are working on polymer adhesives and coatings, with a focus on the recycling and re-use of materials.