Graduate Research Highlights

October 2023: Nicholas Stavinski

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Nicholas Stavinski, 5th year PhD student in Dr. Velarde's lab.

Notable recent achievements



  • 2022 Russell L. Agrusa Student Innovation Award – Department of Computer Science & Engineering
  • 2021 Mattern-Tyler Teaching Award – Department of Chemistry


  • Oral Presentation. “Molecular-level Automation for Sustainable Recycling Industries: Machine Learning Classification of Plastic Waste”. American Chemical Society - 2023 National Meeting, San Francisco, CA.
  • Oral Presentation. “From Crystallinity to Recoverability: Polyethylene Structure-Property Relationships for Future Recycling Technologies”. 2023 40th Annual Chemistry Graduate Student Symposium, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.
  • Oral Presentation. “High-Throughput Multi-Modal Sensing and Computer Vision for Sustainable Recycling Industries”. American Chemical Society - 2022 Northeast Regional Meeting, Rochester, NY.

Research highlight

Broadly, our research examines the surfaces and interfaces of waste plastic chemistry using visible, mid-, and near-infrared spectroscopy. We seek to gain a more fundamental understanding of these “messy” materials to advance autonomous recycling technologies and enhance the polymer circular economy.

I enjoy having the opportunity to not only collaborate with other UB chemistry students but also those from other departments, such as Biological & Chemical Engineering and Computer Science & Engineering. These collaborations have provided me with a well-rounded science experience that will help me in my future career.

Outside of the Velarde Research Laboratory, I enjoy fishing for bass, perch, and walleye. I am also an avid football fan who enjoys attending Buffalo Bills games and rooting for my favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.

Congratulations, Nicholas!

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