• Matt_s Swirls

Juha-Matti Levasalmi

Lead Scientist - SABIC Innovative Plastics

I was a PSE graduate student twenty years ago working on polymer surfaces and thin films in Tom McCarthy’s research group.  Over the years I have had a chance to revisit Amherst many times – and it has always been a positive experience to meet the faculty & staff.

After graduating from PSE in 1996, I joined Borealis in Finland to work on polyolefin research & development.  Following a relatively short experience at a US start-up company, I decided to join the Product Technology team at the Selkirk, NY manufacturing site of GE Plastics in 2003 which a few years later become part of SABIC.

In my current role as a product technologist at SABIC, I have had the opportunity to return to the PSE department to interview some of the graduating students and postdocs.  A couple of decades ago that was me on the other side of the table – excited and nervous at the same time in my first “real” job interview.

Each year I have been impressed with PSE students, and even if an interview does not lead any further in the hiring process, it is clear that the department has a very impressive pool of young talent!  Depending on the specifics of a job opportunity, the match is just not always there.  It is evident that regardless of research area that the graduate students work in, the department continues to provide them an uniquely broad base to polymer science and engineering which is a valuable background as most students will end up at some point in their industrial careers working in a field that is dramatically different from the research they did in graduate school. 

I personally have benefited from the broad base to polymer science and engineering that I received at the PSE department:  the work in Tom’s group on polymer surfaces and thin films lead to a career in polyethylene and polypropylene research, then back to thin films, on to polymer blends… and I am sure I will get to switch to something totally new and exciting yet again.

The PSE graduates and postdocs form a family that is spread across the polymer industries and the academia.  I am looking forward to running in to you some day.  It will be my pleasure!