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Student Highlights

Name:  Laken Kendrick
Degree being sought: Polymer Science, B.S.
Research group:
Patton Research Group
Area of study: Polymer science
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done

Currently, I am researching the synthesis of bio-inspired synthetic DOPA-derivatives and their adhesive properties upon incorporation into thiol-ene networks. This research is inspired by the adhesive capabilities of the intertidal marine mussel.

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

I plan to pursue an advanced degree in biomedical sciences. I am interested in researching targeted drug delivery systems and hope to use my background in polymer science to improve the current methods of drug delivery.

An interesting (personal) fact about yourself?

I spent the spring semester of my sophomore year studying abroad in France. I traveled to multiple European countries and spent two weeks in the United Kingdom. My favorite city is Edinburgh, Scotland.

Why did you choose USM?

A polymer science degree at Southern Miss attracted me to the university, and the opportunities for research here played a key role in my decision.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

USM Presidential Scholarship

Awards won

Thames High Ability Scholar Award, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Recipient, School of Polymers and High Performance Materials Scholarship, Eagle Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research Award


Baranek, A.; Kendrick, L.; Tretbar, C.; Patton, D. “Solvent-free copolymerization of rigid and flexible bis-1,3-benzoxazines: Facile tunability of polybenzoxazine network properties” Polymer. 2013, 54, 5553-5559.

Baranek, A.; Kendrick, L; Narayanan, J.; Tyson, G.; Wand, S.; Patton, D. “Flexible aliphatic-bridged bisphenol-based polybenzoxazines” Polym. Chem. 2012, 3, 2892-2900

Baranek, A.; Kendrick, L. Patton, D. “Anion Exchange Membranes Derived from Polybenzoxazines” Manuscript in Preparation

Who or what influenced your USM education the most?

The greatest influence on my education at USM has been the opportunity to conduct research, specifically with a graduate mentor, Austin Baranek. This has greatly impacted my ability as a student and a researcher for the better.  As a mentor, Austin guided me through research in the lab and provided encouragement and support for my academic courses. My experience with research has been a major factor in my decision to attend graduate school.

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

I am highly involved in the Polymer Science Association, currently serving as secretary. This organization is important to me because it allows all polymer science majors to further their academic and professional goals. This organization has been a great asset to me while at USM and preparing for graduate school, and it has also introduced me to some very great friends.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

As a senior, I plan to continue my involvement in research and the Polymer Science Association. I hope to participate in an academic research program for undergraduates next summer and continue on to graduate school after Southern Miss.

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

In spring 2013, I received the nationally competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for study abroad. I was able to participate in The Abbey Program 2013 in France. The experience allowed me to learn a lot about myself and expand my ideas and personal goals. My study abroad semester was one of the best experiences of my life, and I continue to promote study abroad for all students.