Frank Leibfarth

Frank Leibfarth

Associate Professor

   Caudill Laboratories 239
   919-962-3418
   frankl@email.unc.edu
  Group Website
  Curriculum Vitae


Research Interests

Polymer science, organic synthesis, and continuous flow chemistry


Research Synopsis

Our research seeks to develop new methods for the synthesis of functional polymers with the goal of discovering and studying their emergent macromolecular behavior. The approach is rooted in the belief that the convergence of organic, continuous-flow, and polymer chemistries holds the key to making materials smarter, more functional, and more sustainable. The group is currently focused on developing methods to control stereochemistry in ionic polymerizations, uncovering enhanced function in commodity polymers through selective C–H functionalization, and creating automated approaches for the synthesis of unique polymer architectures with novel functions.

Professional Background

2022 – Present Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2016 – 2022 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2013 – 2016 NSF Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Timothy F. Jamison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2013 Ph.D. University of California Santa Barbara, Professor Craig J. Hawker 2008 B.A. in Chemistry and Physics, University of South Dakota

Honors and Awards

University of South Dakota Spring Commencement Speaker (2022)
Journal of Polymer Science Innovation Award, ACS PMSE Division (2022)
Thieme Chemistry Journal Award (2022)
UNC Winter Commencement Speaker (2021)
Named one of the “Brilliant 10” early career scientists by Popular Science (2021)
UNC Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2021)
Fellow, ACS POLY Division (2021)
NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA R35) (2021)
Camille Dreyfus Teacher–Scholar Award (2020)
Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry (2020)
Cottrell Scholar Award (2020)
Herman F. Mark Young Scholar Award, ACS POLY division (2020)
Beckman Young Investigator (2019)
Named among “Talented 12” by Chemical & Engineering News (2019)
NSF CAREER Award (2019)
Army Research Office Young Investigator Program (2019)
PMSE Young Investigator Award (2019)
Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program (2018)
3M Non-tenured Faculty Award (2017)
Emerging Leader Award, University of South Dakota Alumni Association (2017)


Research Group

Our research program spans each stage from molecular design to material function and will provide students with a diverse and competitive skill set bridging organic and polymer synthesis, small molecule and macromolecule characterization, and applied studies in material science and biotechnology. The goals of the research are inherently interdisciplinary and students will routinely work collaboratively both within and outside of the group to accomplish their scientific and professional goals. We envision our research efforts providing new and potentially useful solutions to challenges in sustainability and human health.

News & Publications

Frank Leibfarth, the main speaker at Carolina’s Winter Commencement, talks about growing up in a small town, being fearless in his college football career and plastics research, his dog Roscoe and Broseidon the goldfish.

 

To tackle this challenge in the context of 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents, we pursued a computer-guided materials discovery approach that combines synergistic innovations in automated flow synthesis and machine learning (ML) method development.