Name: Matthew Sumpter
Degree being sought: B.S. in Polymer Science
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Thames-Rawlins Research Group
Area of study: Surface Coatings; Internal Coatings Stress
Hometown: Panama City, FL
Give a brief synopsis of research you are conducting.
I am working with the TRRG Coatings Team on integrating vegetable oil-based latexes into surface coatings that perform as well as or better than their petroleum alternatives. He is determining and correlating the mechanical properties of the latex systems to quality of film formation as well as testing the effects of internal coating stress on corrosion and performance.
In another project, I am testing the effect of internal coatings stress on corrosion performance. Along with some other undergraduates, I am testing the stress response of specific epoxy-amine systems to cyclical water immersion and drying.
From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?
At this time, my career objectives would be conducting research in the area of mechanical analysis and polymer science on a multi-discipline industrial team.
An interesting (personal) fact about yourself?
Although my hometown is Panama City, I was actually born in Keflavik, Iceland, while my father was stationed at the military base there.
Why did you choose USM?
After looking into the school based on the suggestion of a private music instructor, I became extremely interested in the polymer science department. With the combination of affordable education, extremely personable staff, and advanced research options, Southern Miss made complete sense for my Bachelors Degree.
What USM-related scholarships did you receive?
University Scholar, Thames High Ability Scholar, NASA Space Grant, Polymer Science Scholar
Who or what influenced your USM education the most?
Growing up around Air Force projects like the F-22 Raptor and working as an intern for the Experimental Systems Division at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City really spurred my interest in polymers. Polymer science is at the forefront of modern research, and I am honored to have the chance to major in it.
Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Besides classwork and my research, I am a residence hall executive for the Department of Residence Life. I get the chance to develop student leaders and make the very important culture of residence hall communities a priority for incoming freshmen and transfer students.
Your most profound turning point while at USM?
My first day of working in the research lab is the most profound day I have had during my career at USM. It was the day I realized that high school was in the past and it was time to step up “to the big leagues.”
What USM memory do you treasure the most?
Although the February 10th, 2013, tornado was a disaster when it struck Hattiesburg, the student clean-up days are my fondest memories. It was amazing to see so many people come out of an event as traumatic as the EF-4 tornado that devastated Hattiesburg and work together.
What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Next year, I plan on having multiple publications as well as finishing the senior year of polymer science classes with a high motivation level. Past an undergraduate degree, I would like to enter into graduate studies, potentially around a more traditional engineering field but most certainly one that includes advanced materials.
What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?
Getting my mother to allow me to visit the school was probably the greatest challenge! Where I am from, Southern Miss is not well known at all, so convincing her that a school in a small-town in Mississippi was the best option for me took some time. She’s definitely come around though.