Patrick T. Mather joins Syracuse University faculty to lead cross-University efforts in biomaterials research
Patrick T. Mather joins Syracuse University faculty to lead cross-University efforts in biomaterials researchNovember 28, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Prior to entering college, Patrick T. Mather, an avid guitarist, thought he would be a musician.
That all changed when Mather, a Philadelphia native, entered The Pennsylvania State University in 1985 to study engineering. There, noted researcher H. Thomas Hahn took Mather under his wing to study polymers. By the time he graduated with honors from Penn State in 1989, Mather had discovered a new niche and wanted to continue his study and research in materials.
Today, Mather is a renowned researcher in his own right and is the inaugural Milton and Ann Stevenson Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS). A substantial gift from alumni and community leaders Milton ’52 and Ann ’53 McOmber Stevenson enabled SU to recruit Mather from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
At SU, Mather will lead the new Syracuse Biomaterials Institute (SBI), propelling the University to the forefront of developing new technology in biomaterials — materials used to replace natural body tissues — and medical devices that can sense, interact with, respond to and control their environment.
“Pat is the right person for the job,” says Gustav Engbretson, chair of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering in LCS. “He is well-known, young, eager and very collaborative, and will be the catalyst for us to excel in this emerging area.”
“Pat has an outstanding record of success, from educating and inspiring students to performing groundbreaking research that has created new technologies and spin-off companies,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina. “The generosity of Milt and Ann Stevenson in creating this chair afforded us the opportunity to bring him here to SU.”
Mather received a master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Penn State and a Ph.D. in materials from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He served as a materials research engineer at the U.S. Air Force’s Phillips Laboratory and led the Air Force’s polymers processing group before deciding on a career in academia.
While an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, Mather received the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award for young faculty, which provided him with five years of research funding. Mather’s research focuses on the development of “smart” polymers, substances that can respond to stimulation. Such materials can be used in a myriad of applications, and Mather’s research has run the gamut from technology for orthodontic appliances to evaluating how polymer composites can be applied to cryogenic rocket propulsion components to bringing more liveliness to toys. While at the University of Connecticut, he co-founded two companies based on orthodontic and toy technologies, holds 19 patents and has edited two books.
Though he has established himself as a renowned researcher, Mather is also a teacher at heart. His teaching excellence has been recognized by UConn and Case Western. In his new role at SU, Mather looks forward to helping to develop student potential — among both graduate and undergraduate students — in research, which he sees as an important component of the institute’s mission. “Students want to see that something they have done makes a difference,” he says. “That’s what turns them on to science and engineering.”