Southeastern chemist awarded grant to develop paper coatings

Southeastern chemist awarded grant

Contact: Rene Abadie


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Jean Fotie, left, assistant professor of chemistry at Southeastern Louisiana University, will perform research on paper coatings for Bercen, Inc. of Denham Springs through a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents and the company. Working with him on the project will be senior chemistry students Jessica Rhodus of Walker and Bijay Bhattarai of Nepal.

     HAMMOND Preliminary research performed by Southeastern Louisiana University chemistry students has led to a university chemist being awarded $40,214 to develop new paper coating agents for Bercen, Inc., an international manufacturing facility for paper chemicals located in Denham Springs.
     With a $28,214 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents and $12,000 from Bercen, Jean Fotie, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics, will work on synthesizing new paper sizing agents, compounds that allow ink to adhere to paper without bleeding or smudging.
     “There are a limited number of routes that give this property to paper,” Fotie said. “Our work will look at several promising new sizing compounds and new ways to apply them to paper.”
     The work builds on some initial results generated through Southeastern’s SEAL program. SEAL which stands for Student Entrepreneurs as Active Leaders is a university program that links a student-run, faculty-supervised organization with industrial partners to work on research problems encountered in industry.
     Fotie will involve undergraduate students in the research, giving them the opportunity to do fundamental chemistry in the lab and see it applied to an industrial process.
     “Southeastern brings skills and techniques that we do not have here,” said Bercen Technology Director Joseph Schaffer. “Working with the SEAL team brings us these capabilities, while giving students experience in solving real world problems. Our company can draw on their natural ability to innovate.”
     “The grant demonstrates the ability of the university to work in areas that help the economy of the state, train students for good jobs, and demonstrate to technology companies that Louisiana has a lot to offer,” added Debra Dolliver, associate professor of chemistry and co-investigator on the project.
     Bercen is an employee-owned company that established its global headquarters and principal manufacturing plant in Denham Springs in 2009. Started in 1959, the company specializes exclusively in paper-related chemicals with more than 35 percent of its sales outside the United States.

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