The Charger Blog

New Chemistry Professor Named a ‘Future Faculty Scholar’

Hao Sun, Ph.D., who recently launched a research lab at the University of New Haven, has been recognized by the Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering division of the American Chemical Society, alongside faculty from institutions such as MIT and Harvard.

October 28, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Hao Sun, Ph.D., with his students Farbod Shirinchi ’23 M.S. and Mia Rodriguez ’24.
Hao Sun, Ph.D., (center) with his students Farbod Shirinchi ’23 M.S. and Mia Rodriguez ’24.

When Hao Sun, Ph.D., was an undergraduate student at Wuhan University, he took a polymer chemistry class that sparked his interest in the field. Inspired by a professor who was passionate and knowledgeable, Dr. Sun learned about the integral role of organic polymer materials in our modern world. He says they are all around us – from packaging and building materials to electronic devices and nanomedicine.

Now a professor himself, Dr. Sun was recently recognized by Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering (PMSE), a division of the American Chemical Society (ACS), as a member of its 2021 cohort of Future Faculty Scholars.

An organic and polymer chemist, Dr. Sun and his fellow honorees, who are from prestigious universities such as MIT and Harvard, are invited to share their work at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego next spring. He plans to discuss his recent research on peptide-polymer bioconjugates as high-performance therapeutics, including possible anti-cancer applications of this new class of macromolecular drugs.

“I am very honored to have been selected as a 2021 American Chemical Society PMSE future faculty scholar,” said Dr. Sun. “This award aims to highlight early-career scientists and engineers who have made significant contributions in the field of polymer materials science and engineering. The recipients of this award are from top-tier universities and institutions, and we will leverage this symposium to discuss our research, build a network, and initiate potential research collaborations among the universities.”

Dr. Sun, who joined the Tagliatela College of Engineering’s faculty this summer, is teaching organic chemistry and advanced organic chemistry this semester. He is grateful for his colleagues who have been “supportive of his teaching” and who he says he has been learning from. He has also already been impressed by his students.

“The best part of my teaching experience at the University, so far, is my excellent students,” he said. “They always desire to absorb new knowledge and they ask me questions in the classroom or during office hours. This is very rewarding. I am very happy to share my chemistry knowledge with them.”

Image of Hao Sun, Ph.D., and his students in Buckman 314
Hao Sun, Ph.D., and his students in Buckman 314, where the Sun Research Group works.
‘My goal is to equip my students with strong skills to prepare them for their future’

Dr. Sun also recently launched Sun Polymer Lab at the University. He is excited to be working with a young and diverse research team, which includes high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. They are already conducting exciting and impactful research, such as projects related to the safe and effective development of nanomedicine for veterinary use and stimuli-responsive or “smart” drug-delivery systems.

“Our research is chemistry-centered and highly interdisciplinary,” said Dr. Sun. “We are working on the design of next-generation drug delivery systems featuring target delivery and programmable release of the encapsulated therapeutics. These new nanomaterials not only can reduce the side-effects of drugs, but they also have promise in improving the therapeutic efficacy for the treatment of many diseases.”

Committed to fostering hands-on research experiences for his students, Dr. Sun hopes to create exciting opportunities for them, such as publications in peer-reviewed journals, presenting their research at conferences, and collaboration and research exchange opportunities at other leading universities.

“As a mentor, I strive to equip my students with strong skills to prepare them for their future success,” he said. “At the Sun Polymer Lab, we seek creative, macromolecular approaches to solving the problems in the interface of chemistry, materials, and medicine. We are investigating several areas of synthetic polymer chemistry, with a particular focus on those most closely related to biomedical and environmental applications.”