Uma Chowdhry Researcher On Material Science Nanotechnology

Uma Chowdhry, an inspiration to young chemists

9:23 AM, 22nd July 2013
Article on Uma Chowdhry
Uma Chowdhry, Chief Science and Technology Officer, DuPont.

SINGAPORE: Uma Chowdhry, born in Mumbai, India, is well known for her research in material science and nanotechnology. Uma Chowdhry is Chief Science and Technology Officer at DuPont. Chowdhry worked at DuPont in their main labs in Wilmington, Delaware, where she became involved in many different research projects. One of the earliest projects studied better ways to make a compound called tetrahydrofuran (THF), a common laboratory solvent used in industry.

Later she did research on ceramics, materials like porcelain that are chemically very similar to glass. Chowdhry cleverly applied chemistry to make ceramics that conduct electricity; moreover, she was able to make ceramics that conduct electricity even better than metals do. Such materials are called superconductors, and they have many potential uses in computers, batteries, and other electrical devices.

For a while Chowdhry was head of DuPont’s Terathane operations. Terathane is a substance used to make various polymers, including polyurethanes. Most polyurethane molecules consist of alternating shorter chains of molecules - some very stiff and straight, others floppy and flexible - hooked together like cars in a train. This allows the polyurethane to be strong yet flexible and not brittle. The floppy, flexible segments in polyurethane chains are Terathane molecules. Polyurethanes are used to make items as diverse as foam seat cushions, paints, and skateboard wheels.

In 2006, Chowdhry became DuPont’s chief science and technology officer, a position from which she retired in 2010, after 33 years with the company. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Science, Mumbai University (India). Chowdhry graduated her masters degree from Caltech and earned a PhD in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Uma Chowdhry Auto Biography


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