Students in associate professor Geoff Geise’s polymer membrane lab had a productive outing at NAMS 2023, the annual meeting of the North American Membrane Society, with two undergraduates and three graduate students earning recognition at the conference.

Ph.D. student Sean Bannon earned second place in the poster competition for his research titled “Characterizing dielectric properties and water molecule dynamics using microwave dielectric relaxation spectroscopy.” The poster described how the Geise lab uses microwave dielectric relaxation spectroscopy to study how water molecules behave in polymers for desalination.


The analysis could lead to a better understanding of how water molecules move in proximity to other water molecules and to the polymers used in desalination membranes.

“That information is important for determining how water preferentially moves through desalination membranes — ultimately leading to effective and efficient desalination,” Geise said.

Bannon received an Elias Klein Founders’ Travel Supplement to attend the conference, which provides up to $500 in travel expenses.

Another Ph.D. student, Caroline Morin, was selected to serve as a 2023 Graduate Student Mentor for Undergraduate Students at the conference.

Each year, NAMS selects graduate students to join undergraduate attendees at the meeting and provide mentorship and guidance. This helps to ensure that undergraduate students have a positive experience and that they are well-equipped to continue pursuing research and scholarship. Mentors receive a travel supplement to defray costs to attend the conference.

Fourth-year undergraduate student Bea Tremblay won an Undergraduate Student Travel Award to present a poster on her research, “Lithium and sodium sorption in crosslinked bisphenol A ethoxylate diacrylate-based cation exchange membranes,” at NAMS 2023.


Tremblay’s research focuses on developing materials to maximize domestic lithium resources, an area the federal government has identified as a key national security priority. Bannon is one of her co-authors on the research.

“It can be difficult to extract and purify lithium from waters that contain other compounds, such as sodium,” Geise said. “Along with Sean, and postdoctoral scholar Jung Min Kim, another of her co-authors, Bea has been working to develop materials that can selectively recover lithium from these solutions.”

The other two aforementioned NAMS 2023 awards were previously reported. They went to rising fourth-year student Anna Harris, who also won an Undergraduate Student Travel Award, and Ph.D. student Charles Leroux, winner of an Elias Klein Founders’ Travel Supplement.