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Meet The Team

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Reika Katsumata

(勝又 麗香)

Principal Investigator

Office: Conte A516

Reika is originally from Kawasaki, a suburb of Tokyo, Japan. After obtaining her B.E. and M.E. degrees in organic and polymeric materials at Tokyo Institute of Technology, she made a big move to the States where she earned Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in the Ellison Group. Before joining the PSE department, she completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, Santa Babara in the Segalman Group. Outside of her work, she enjoys playing softball, listening/playing music, and reading books.

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Graduate student

Office: Conte A532 

Walter's current research aims to improve the fundamental understanding of how interfaces can impact polymer dynamics in ways that are at odds with classical models. These surprising effects are particularly strong  in polymers loaded with large amounts of extremely small (~2 nm) nanoparticles.


He grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering in 2018. During his time as an undergrad, Walter worked as a lab technician at 3M, helping formulate optically clear adhesives for display technologies. He also had the opportunity to work with Chris Ellison to develop surface modification polymer thin films for use in sub-10 nm block copolymer lithography. In his spare time, he enjoys playing chess and ultimate frisbee.

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Evon Petek

Graduate student

Office: Conte A532

Evon is currently working on a systematic study of the wetting behavior of liquids on thin polymer bilayer systems. She hopes that her research will lead to a new class of reusable oil/water membranes.
Evon grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from The College of Wooster in 2018 with a degree in Chemistry. During her undergrad, Evon worked as an intern for three summers at The Lubrizol Corporation in the Health, Home, and Personal Care Department. Research ranged from laundry detergent formulation, mechanical properties of polymer films used in hair products, and test development for sunscreen water resistance. Her time at Lubrizol inspired her to include personal care products and polymers in her undergraduate research. Evon's undergraduate thesis involved studying swellable organically modified silica for use in extending fragrance release with nonvolatile co-absorbates.


Being new to New England, Evon enjoys getting outside to see the Fall colors, watching hockey, trying new recipes, and reading. She has played viola for seventeen years and currently plays in the UMass All University Orchestra. Her cat, Sage, is lactose intolerant, but loves cheese and belly rubs.

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Autumn Mineo

Graduate student

Office: Conte A532

After growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, Autumn moved to Massachusetts to study at Smith College, where she became fascinated with polymers and light initiated chemistry in the Buck laboratory. Following graduation with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 2019, she made a move across the Connecticut River to join the Katsumata group at UMass Amherst. Her current research efforts are focused in generating stress dissipating adhesive films using light-initiated reversible click-type reactions.


Claire Senger

Graduate Student

Office: Conte A532

Claire comes from the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, and graduated with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2020. During her undergrad, she had the opportunity to work with professors Chris Macosko and Chris Ellison, where she first became interested in polymers. Her current research in the Katsumata group is currently focused on utilizing RTA in the surface crystallization of plastics in order to keep them from polluting the ocean, and for the healing and doping of defective semiconductors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, puzzles, and drawing.

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Tera Huang

Graduate student

Office: Conte A532

Tara grew up in Kaohsiung, which is the major industrial city in the southwest of Taiwan. She then moved to Tainan to study at National Cheng Kung University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 2021. During her undergrad, Tara worked in Prof. Bing-Hung Chen’s lab with her research focusing on the purification and analysis of polyglycerol mixtures by column and gas chromatography. She also had a chance to work with Prof. Chieh-Tsung Lo in her senior year, where she was involved in research about crystallization and chain conformational change in electrospun Poly (l-lactic acid) nanofibers. Tara’s ongoing research is focusing on the wetting behavior of two polymeric homogeneous bilayers. Outside work, she enjoys playing the piano, baking, and cooking.  


Mary Kate Jutze

Graduate student

Office: Conte A532

Mary Kate grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering in 2021. As an undergraduate, they interned with GE Aviation and SSAB Iowa before pursuing a research-focused path. Mary Kate studied capillary suspension dynamics in Prof. Jon Pham’s lab during her senior year at UK before moving to Amherst and joining the Katsumata group, where she is using fluorophores to simultaneously characterize polymer segmental relaxation and entire-chain motion. 
In their free time, Mary Kate is always looking for a good book. They enjoy biking, swimming, and ultimate frisbee, as well as playing board games and D&D with friends.


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Michelle Gross 

Graduate student

Office: Conte A532

Michelle graduated from Texas A&M University with B.S. in chemistry. She spent her undergrad as a research assistant to Dr. David Barondeau and Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee. Her undergraduate research fostered an interest in applying her skills and knowledge to help solve real world problems and an interest in the material science field. Michelle went on to complete a M.S. in chemistry with a focus in polymer science at the Master’s Industrial Internship Program at University of Oregon. The program combined 6 months of polymer science coursework and projects aimed towards sustainability with a 9-month internship. During the internship phase, Michelle worked for Lonza, conducting physical characterization and thermal analysis to direct drug development decisions using spray dried dispersion technology.
Prior to joining the Ph.D. cohort at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Michelle worked for two years with Thermo Fisher Scientific as an Early Development Scientist. Her work and academic experiences have founded a passion for the polymer sustainability field, and a desire to further skill sets and problem solving techniques through a Ph.D. program. Michelle joined the Katsumata research group in Fall 2022, and her current research is focused on the ultrasound-mediated recycling of network polymers. In her free time, you will find Michelle outside, either hiking, climbing or skiing; or inside learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, lifting, or at the local rock gym.

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Eddie Zhao (2019)

Undergraduate Researcher, Colorado School of Mines, Chemical Engineering

Joseph Saez (2020)

Undergraduate Researcher, UMass Amherst, Chemical Engineering

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Tommy Kumlin (2020)

Undergraduate Researcher, UMass Amherst, Chemistry

Zachary Ahmad (2021)

Summer Undergraduate Researcher, The University of Southern Mississippi

PhD student at Caltech MatSci

Jordan Varma (2021)

ASPIRE Summer Undergraduate Researcher, University of Mississippi

PhD student at UMass Amherst PSE

Tarik Karakaya (2022)

Graduate Exchange Program Researcher, University of Mainz

Jasney Combs (2022)

ASPIRE Summer Undergraduate Researcher, Ball State University

Dupyo Jeon (2022)

Visiting Graduate Researcher, Pusan National University

PhD student at UMass Amherst PSE

James N. Pagaduan (2023)

PhD student


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