2019 Scholarship Winner Feature – Haihuan Wang

U Penn Engineering Student Receives Philadelphia STLE Award

L to R: Committee Member Bill Tuszynski, Prof. Rob Carpick, Awardee Haihuan Wang, Committee Member Sal Rea

The Philadelphia Section of the STLE is pleased to award a scholarship to U Penn Materials Science & Engineering student Haihuan Wang. Wang, who completed his first year as a Master degree candidate, is working under the direction of Prof. Shu Yang in collaboration with Prof. Rob Carpick. Wang has a strong background in polymer synthesis and characterization. As an undergraduate at Sichuan University in China, he worked with novel self-healing hydrogels, publishing three peer-reviewed papers, including one where he was the first author. At Penn, Wang is working on an NIH-funded project at Penn’s Center for AIDS Research. His work is in the design, synthesis, and characterization of thin-film hydrogels as alternative lubricants in condoms. Alternatives to lubricants are needed to promote use. While condoms are important for prophylactic use and to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases such as AIDS, many users find them unpleasant and avoid them. Hydrogels have the potential to alleviate user concerns while strengthening the condom against breakage. To date, Wang has synthesized bulk and thin-film hydrogels with good bonding to latex. In addition to characterizing the structure of the hydrogel-latex bond, Wang has conducted mechanical property testing. A patent application has been filed and work is being written up for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, Wang has received a highly competitive “Masters Scholar Award” from Penn.