Department: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Position: Ruth H. and Sam Madrid Professor
Address: Mountaintop Campus
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Areas of Research
- Polymer Science and Engineering
- Membrane Formation
- Controlled-release Drug delivery
McHugh's lab investigates fundamental problems in the processing behavior of polymeric materials, including interactions among chain architecture, phase transitions, morphology development, and final properties. A number of McHugh's experiments involve the use of rheology and rheo-optics, coupled with video imaging, to generate quantitative information. His lab also developed novel optical techniques, in combination with thermodynamic and transport-based models, to quantify the dynamics of the diffusion, phase separation, and structuring processes that take place when a polymer-solvent mixture is quenched in a non-solvent environment. This process, known as phase inversion, is the principal means of fabrication of asymmetric membranes that are used in the chemical and processing industries as energy-efficient separation devices and as drug delivery devices in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. McHugh's group has also been active in modeling various aspects of polymer processing, particularly processing-induced structure formation. These include flow-induced phase separation and/or crystallization in fiber spinning (melt, dry, and wet) and film blowing.
McHugh has published more than 200 technical articles and presented his work at more than 250 seminars at conferences around the world. He served on Lehigh's faculty from 1971 to 1979, and on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1979 to 2002, before returning to Lehigh. In 2012, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the highest grade of membership granted by the organization.