Oliverio wins national scholarship competition

by Nicole Capozziello

Published October 13, 2019

Materials design and innovation masters student Eric Oliverio won first place in a scholarship competition run by the MidAtlantic Rubber and Plastics Group (MARPG).

“Along with possessing strong computation and research skills, Eric has always been a hardworking and proactive student in his graduate courses.”
Prathima Nalam, assistant professor
Department of Materials Design and Innovation
Eric Oliverio.

Eric Oliverio

MARPG is a technically oriented professional organization that is a part of the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. MARPG “promotes personal relationships among those in education, polymer manufacturers, suppliers of raw materials and producers of rubber products.”

Oliverio was awarded the $1,500 scholarship based on his academic achievement, as well as an essay detailing his work history, current research and future career goals. The MARPG scholarships are an important part of advancing the ACS’s goal of preparing for the future by investing in education.

“Along with possessing strong computation and research skills, Eric has always been a hardworking and proactive student in his graduate courses,” says Prathima Nalam, Oliverio’s advisor and an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Design and Innovation.

In his work, Oliverio uses advanced image processing techniques to quantify the structural features of mycelium (mushroom root) networks, synthesized by Albany-based company Ecovative Designs LLC. As industries look to create more sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging, mycelium products present a promising option. Oliverio’s work to increase understanding of mycelium’s structure is integral to the development of reliable bio-based products as it currently guides the company’s choice of mushrooms and growth conditions for specific structures.

Oliverio is part of UB’s Career Experience program, which pairs students with life science and advanced manufacturing companies in Western New York. He was a supervisor in the IT department for the past four years and joined Nalam’s research lab earlier this year. He is also a volunteer with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences' Science is Elementary program, which brings science education to elementary school students in underserved communities.

Oliverio expressed gratitude to his advisors Prathima Nalam and Olga Wodo for their help on this project. In conjunction with the award, Oliverio was also invited to attend the International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland this October and is presenting a poster at the Material Research Society Symposium this December in Boston.