Introduction to Polymer Chemistry

A Biobased Approach

Judit E. Puskas, Ph.D., Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The University of Akron

978-1-60595-030-3, ©2014, 338 pages, 6×9, Soft cover or ebook

Student price available

  • Fundamental concepts and reactions explained through polymers from plants and animals
  • Macromolecular structures introduced via biological polymers
  • Includes a course syllabus, study questions and exercises
  • Extensive lab guidance and protocols for DNA isolation, amplification using PCR
  • Full color figures shown throughout the text

This book connects modern synthetic polymer chemistry to its roots by exploring the chemistry of natural polymers and self-assembled macromolecular structures. Designed to introduce students to the basics of polymer science, the text investigates intermolecular forces, functional groups and key reactions by means of polymers found in, and produced by, living plants and animals, including proteins, rubber, DNA, fibers, lignin, carbohydrates and many others. The author explains how varied natural polymeric systems illustrate a wide array of fundamental polymer concepts. Key analogies are demonstrated between mechanisms in biological and synthetic polymerization, and the text uses growth, DNA replication, self-assembly and other biological processes to assist the student in mastering the terminology and molecular-level mechanisms of polymer chemistry.

To guide both instructors and students the book includes the outline of a one-semester course syllabus, end-of-chapter questions, as well as detailed instructions for setting up multiple labs dealing with gene isolation and amplification using polymerase chain reaction techniques (PCR). Each chapter also offers exercises based on real-world examples.


While it is a difficult undertaking to conceive and create a course for new students in polymer science, and even more so to provide a suitable textbook for the course, Professor Puskas’ “Introduction to Polymer Chemistry: a Biobased Approach” admirably accomplishes these objectives. The text is almost entirely biology based: she presents living organisms with which we share our world in terms of the fundamentals of synthetic polymer science, and harmonizes the macro-, micro- and nano-worlds with polymeric materials and molecules essential for life. The focus is on the relationship between biologically essential nature-produced polymers (proteins, nucleic acids, sugars, terpenes, etc.) and their architecture, composition, and synthesis. Every chapter contains excellent illustrations, incorporates interesting case histories, practices and experiments, and includes self-examination questions to challenge the student (instructive answers provided). Chapters end with useful references that invite further study.

In my opinion, Professor Puskas has succeeded in what she set out to accomplish: to introduce polymer chemistry, particularly polymer synthesis science, to biology-oriented students. Further, this book provides new insights of great value to everyone entering the field of polymers. Such a volume could be assembled only by an excellent scientist-educator at the height of her powers.

–Joseph P. Kennedy, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Distinguished Professor of Polymer Science and Chemistry
The University of Akron
October 2012
Akron, Ohio, USA

Course Structure: Syllabus and Schedule

1. Introduction
1.1. Polymers
1.2. The History of Polymer Science
1.3. Fundamental Concepts in Polymer Science
1.4. Questions
1.5. Bibliography

2. Polynucleic Acids (Polynucleotides)
2.1. Types of Polynucleotides
2.2. Example: DNA
2.3. Case Study: UV-Damage
2.4. Practice: RNA
2.5. Experiments
2.6. Questions
2.7. Bibliography

3. Proteins
3.1. Types of Proteins
3.2. Example: Insulin
3.3. Case Study: Sickle Cell Anemia
3.4. Practice: Hemoglobin
3.5. Experiments
3.6. Questions
3.7. Bibliography

4. Terpenoids
4.1. Types of Terpenoids
4.2. Example: Cholesterol
4.3. Case Study: Estrogen-Testosteron Equilibrium
4.4. Practice: Natural Rubber Biosynthesis
4.5. Experiments
4.6. Questions
4.7. Bibliography

5. Carbohydrates
5.1. Types of Carbohydrates
5.2. Example: Cellulose
5.3. Case Study: Shell Fish
5.4. Practice: Starch
5.5. Experiments
5.6. Questions
5.7. Bibliography

6. Lignin 145
6.1. Types of Lignins
6.2. Example: Softwood
6.3. Case Study: Biofuel from Switchgrass
6.4. Practice: Hardwood
6.5. Experiments
6.6. Questions
6.7. Bibliography

7. Self-Assembly
7.1. Types of Self-assembled Structures
7.2. Example: Cell Membrane
7.3. Case Study: Targeted Drug Delivery via Endocytosis
7.4. Practice: Bone Tissue
7.5. Experiments
7.6. Questions
7.7. Bibliography

Appendix A—Glossary of terms related to kinetics, thermodynamics and mechanics of polymerization
Appendix B—Teacher packet for PCR labs for DNA identification and amplification
Questions and Answers

Introduction to Polymer Chemistry (Entire eBook)
$64.50 Save: $35.00
Chapter 7: Self-Assembly
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Polynucleic Acids (Polynucleotides)
Chapter 3: Proteins
Chapter 4: Terpenoids
Chapter 5: Carbohydrates
Chapter 6: Lignin

978-1-60595-030-3, ©2014, 338 pages, 6×9, Soft cover or ebook

Student price available

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