Cooler research breeze in hot summer

Cooler research breeze in hot summer


Dr Seshadri Ramkumar states, Necessary bans of toxic chemicals, and the growing need for green products highlights the need for multidisciplinary R & D in the industry.

With summer on its way, it is pleasing to see high school students want to utilise their time in research laboratories.

Heat wave is blowing from Michigan to New England and summer had already done its job with temperatures reaching as high as 127F in New Delhi, India.

Heat waves in many countries emphasise the importance of comfortable wear made using cotton, linen, and blends. Additionally, restrictions on the use of single-use plastic products necessitate exploring natural and biodegradable advanced products in defence, PPE, and infrastructure sectors.

In the textiles sector, in addition to research, there is a need to effectively outreach and communicate with the public, and other stakeholders such as producers, retailers and brands. On June 19, 2024, while inaugurating the new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar, India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the importance of international interactions and spreading knowledge for economic and cultural excellence. In addition to teaching and research, academia needs to focus on outreach and engagement.

The next phase of development for textiles and manufacturing sector is to engage with middle to high school students to highlight the importance of the sector in providing jobs, and how the industry is developing products that provide comfort, personnel protection, and other industrial products.

The Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory engages with local community and high school students in its outreach efforts and supports students to spend time in the laboratory on short term projects. High school students who have graduated in research projects from the laboratory have gone on to building start-ups such Inversa Leather, E Innovate, LLC which have focused on sustainable products such as cotton mats for high-end applications, fashion products, etc.

Nandhanaa Anand, who recently completed 10th grade at Lubbock High School is undertaking research in our laboratory on understanding the fibre content in commercially available personnel and household wipes and evaluating their absorbing properties to broaden the scope of these products. The project has already delivered results and Nandhanaa is drafting a peer-reviewed paper.

“Working in the lab helps me learn more about how important it is going to be in my future career to communicate with others and work well in a team. Many times, in high school our work only affects us however, after being in a real-world team setting, I have been able to understand that there are so many other people involved and affected as well,” stated Nandhanaa.

Necessary bans of toxic chemicals, and the growing need for green products highlights the need for multidisciplinary R & D in the industry. And educating the importance of research in school students is an important outreach effort for stake holders in the industry. Importantly, technical textiles sector has its task cut out to find economically viable alternate materials, utilise natural materials and their blends and invest in research and skill development.

Hands on experiment on wipes is available at:

About the author:

Dr  Seshadri Ramkumar is a Professor, Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory  in Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA.