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Dakota Ehlenburg.jpg

Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science and Engineering BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Gu Group
Hometown: Douglasville, GA

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:

I help with multiple projects that our research group is working on. Sometimes I even create new instrumentation via CAD software. I also help run small and wide angle x-ray scattering characterization for many research groups. Regardless of what it is, I am trying ensure groundbreaking research with conjugated polymers or self-assembly block co-polymers to continue.

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?

I really feel that I have learned a lot about the chemical and polymer industry in my time at Southern Miss. I really hope that I might be able to take my technical skills with polymers and combine them with the management and leadership skills that I have been taught over the years to help bridge the gap between business and technology.

An interesting (personal) fact about yourself

I almost amputated my right hand in 4th grade. Luckily the amazing medical surgeons at Northside Hospital and Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital were able to reconstruct my veins and arteries while bolting my bones back together.

Why did you choose USM?

I wanted to be close to my family that lives on the Gulf Coast. I use to love spending summers by the gulf.

Awards won

Donald Drapeau Undergraduate Research Prize - May 1, 2018 - USM Undergraduate Research Symposium - First Place - Best Work on a Materials and Structure: Analysis and Performance Topic


1.  Probing the Viscoelastic Property of Pseudo Free‐Standing Conjugated Polymeric Thin Films May 1, 2018 - Macromolecular Rapid Communications https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.201800092

Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?

Volunteering with the USM Scuba Diving program. This was important to me because it was a good way to stay active, relieve stress, and practice safety outside of the lab. Learning to stop, assess, and act in situations was a great practice that I implemented into my daily routine.

Your most profound turning point while at USM?

I believe that the most profound turning point for me during my undergraduate career was taking a leap of faith and changing my major from Business Administration to Polymer Science and Engineering.

What USM memory do you treasure the most?

My first Southern Miss football game. I will never forget when we played our old conference Rival ECU. I made a lot of friends that game and had a really good time.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I plan to graduate and look for jobs in the polymer industry. After working with USM Polymer Science Graduates at Ascend Performance Materials I would really like to return to Pensacola, FL and find a job in the Nylon Technology division and work on a master’s degree while working.

While at USM, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?

I am really proud that I had the opportunity to be a president of a fraternal organization on campus. I feel that it was a really humbling experience that also taught me to be more moderate while working with other people’s viewpoints and concerns.

What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?

Living 6 hours from home was the greatest challenge for me. A lot of changes were happening within my family and friend groups during my first two years at USM and it was hard to combat being homesick.