Smith to lead Advanced Composites Institute at MSU

Dennis Smith (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Jim Laird

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An academic and research leader at Mississippi State is adding a new role to his professional portfolio.

Dennis Smith has been named director of the university’s Marvin B. Dow Advanced Composites Institute, which is located at the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory in Starkville. He will continue to serve as head of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We look forward to Dr. Smith’s leadership of this cutting-edge research institute,” said David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development. “He has a collaborative vision for ACI that will bring together science and engineering disciplines — spanning the College of Arts and Sciences and the Bagley College of Engineering.”

After a competitive selection process by Boeing, the ACI was created at MSU with the donation of a revolutionary stitched composite process and equipment developed at NASA by pioneering scientist Marvin B. Dow.

“This technology is primarily focused on polymer matrix carbon fiber composites for aerospace applications, and being at Raspet is important to us since the aerospace composite work will take place there for near end use flight testing,” Smith said. “The main economic driver for companies is lower cost carbon fiber. It has steadily decreased — opening new markets and opportunities.”

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, he said innovations in molecular science and engineering are required. He plans on the ACI and its partners driving these innovations.

“We’ll continue ACI’s downstream engineering projects for specific collaborator and customer needs, but further expand upstream to more fundamental research in new resin chemistry, hybrid network polymers, surface and interface science, sustainability and environmental impact, sensing and analytical sciences, stimuli-responsive ‘smart’ materials, and all pertinent areas of computational modeling,” he explained.

Smith received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and mathematics from Missouri State University in 1988. In 1992, he completed a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Florida.

He was a Dow Chemical Post-Doctoral Fellow in Germany, Dow senior research chemist and Dow project leader. He also is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the former chair of the ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry, an NSF-I/UCRC center director, and Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, among other professional highlights. He also held joint appointments as professor of Material Science and Engineering at both Clemson University and the University of Texas-Dallas.

His broad professional interests include science and technology leadership, technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and chemistry and materials research. His research interests include synthesis, properties, and integration of market-driven material solutions historically for energy, optical, communications, surface tailored, renewable, biomedical and composite applications — including fluoropolymers, bio-based polymers, networks, composites, membranes, waste rubber and carbon fiber. 

Along with his extensive research career, he has published 137 refereed journal articles, 28 U.S. patents issued or pending, over 300 conference papers, five book editorships, and more than 200 invited lectures in 23 countries.

For additional information about the ACI, contact Smith at

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 1:06 pm