Georgia Power Professor of Fiber and Polymer Science Sergiy Minko directs UGA’s Nanostructured Materials Lab, which creates advanced fibers, textiles and other functional materials with applications that range from biotechnology to consumer goods.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, as well as my Ph.D. in chemistry, from Lviv Polytechnic University in Ukraine. I am the Georgia Power Professor of Fiber and Polymer Science. I teach and conduct research in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the department of chemistry in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 2013 because I recognized the university’s strong expertise in life sciences.
What are your favorite courses and why?
My favorite course is “Polymer Science,” which has been my major area of expertise throughout my career.
What interests you about your field?
I am interested in the great challenges we face in switching from a petroleum economy to post-fossil oil civilization, with renewable materials and environmentally sound technologies for production and recycling. We are really looking for revolutionary changes in the world of polymeric materials around us (plastics, packaging, diapers, building materials, garments, car parts and many others). A polymer materials economy should be based on plant and microbial products. This is a really challenging scientific and engineering problem. This is important not just for Earth. Deep space missions and the colonization of other planets will depend on this technology.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Meeting with excellent colleagues and students, building interdisciplinary teams and participating in multi-team projects.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I was taught many years ago that learning, teaching and research are indivisible. I have believed in this throughout my career. Those are three parts of one mechanism. How can you drive a car without tires, or with tires but without an engine?
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
Learning is very hard work. You should believe in your strength and love of knowledge. Do not expect that somebody will serve you your knowledge like a breakfast cup of coffee.
Describe your ideal student.
Independent, critical, hard-working and friendly.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
My lab, classroom and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Travel to enjoy nature, mountains, the oceans, countries and meet people.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
My favorite book is W. Somerset Maugham’s “Theatre,” and my favorite movie is Federico Fellini’s “La Strada (The Road),” which the American Film Institute refers to as “one of the most influential films ever made.”
Proudest moment at UGA?
My students’ graduation
(Originally published Oct. 9, 2016)