The George & Josephine Butler Polymer Research Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Florida has more than seventy-five members and is comprised of the Castellano, Colina, Evans, Fanucci, Miller, Savin, Sumerlin, Veige, and Wagener research groups. As part of the Polymer Program, the Butler Polymer Research Laboratory is an integrated and collaborative laboratory setting in which members of these individual groups conduct research in shared facilities on a widely diverse set of topics that encompass all elements of polymer science.
History of The Butler Lab
Research in polymer chemistry and engineering at the University of Florida started in 1946, when Professor George Butler moved to Gainesville to begin his teaching career. As a consequence, this laboratory, which is now more than 75 years old, was one of the first in the United States to focus research in polymer science within a department of chemistry. It started as a relatively small group of researchers and remained that way until 1970, when a physical polymer chemist, Thieo Hogen-Esch, joined the department. Ken Dill arrived in the early 1980’s, later moving to the University of California/San Francisco where he is today.
Research in polymers was not limited to the laboratories of Butler and Hogen-Esch. Many others were investigating the fundamentals of polymer chemistry, including Charles Reed in the early years. Professor Reed was among the first in the world to investigate the use of polymer membranes for reverse osmosis purification of salt water to create pure drinking water.
Nevertheless, the origin of what is known today as the George & Josephine Butler Polymer Research Laboratory undoubtedly can be attributed to the work of Butler and Hogen-Esch. In 1984 a decision was made to expand further by the addition of Ken Wagener to the faculty; Randy Duran came in 1989, John Reynolds in 1992.
The George & Josephine Butler Research Laboratory became formally recognized as a separate entity in 1995 when it was dedicated as part of the renovation of Leigh Hall, one of the department’s oldest buildings. The "Butler Laboratory" is currently found on the third floors of Leigh Hall and Sisler Hall, and at present is occupied by the Castellano, Colina, Evans, Fanucci, Miller, Savin, Sumerlin, Veige, and Wagener research groups.