University of Florida, Gainesville
Center for Macromolecular Science and Engineering - University of Florida Polymer Science Program

Featured Graduate Student Alex Pemba

When I was a boy growing up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, my father taught me that if I worked hard enough, I could get anything that I dreamed. Unfortunately, because of my origins I could not realize my primary dream of becoming the president of the United States of America. However, there are other dreams that have come true for me. Because of the hard work I put in as a younger man, in 2004 I was allowed an opportunity to continue my studies in the USA.

My first stop was a small Blinn Community College in Bryan, Texas,
where I was a Mathematics major until I was introduced to the world of Chemistry. I was never that interested in Chemistry until I was inspired by my General Chemistry teacher. I transferred to Texas A&M University, where I continued to study Chemistry, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. After graduation in 2008, the decision to leave Aggieland for Gatorland was an easy one.

Besides the superior weather, I was attracted to UF by the strong polymer program. The Center for Macromolecular Science and Engineering (CMSE) at UF is a veritable melting pot for a great number of world-class macromolecular scientists.  The CMSE also has strong ties to other great institutions in the same field. The CMSE had everything for which I was looking: characterization instruments, good sources of funding, and great collaborations.

I finally settled into the Miller Group where I research the synthesis of new bio-derived polymers for the replacement of commodity plastics. Besides chemistry, my time at the CMSE has allowed me to learn characterization techniques that include: gel permeation chromatography (GPC), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA).

I consider myself blessed to have found a field for which I have so much passion. I look forward to discovering new things about my field everyday at work. It is this passion that I try to pass on to aspiring Gators. My hope is to be able to continue studying biodegradable and biorenewable polymer systems in an industrial setting when I graduate.

Content Updated: 2011

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