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Pilar Suarez-Martinez

Pilar Suarez-Martinez is a fourth year Ph.D student in Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus’ research group. Pilar’s research is on the area of corrosion – a $1 Trillion industry. Her main focus is on corrosion mitigation through coatings systems, especially now that chromium-based surface pretreatment coatings - used for over 90 years - are considered carcinogenic. Therefore, the use of chromium-based coating is now highly regulated and a complete switch to chromium-free alternatives is expected by 2026. Although new chromium-free alternatives have emerged, they come along with difficulties in scalability, corrosion protection efficiency, and environmental concerns. In order to address these concerns, Pilar has used materials such as clay, and water-borne application processes - spray-assisted layer-by-layer assembly and regular airbrushing - to create easily scalable environment-friendly polymer-clay coatings. These coatings have evidenced great long-term corrosion protection and potential to be used as new chromium-free surface pretreatment alternatives.

As a graduate student researcher, Pilar has been exposed to several areas like polymer science, electrochemistry, materials science and scientific writing. To date, Pilar has filed for a patent application and published a full article on the Macromolecular Materials and Engineering Journal. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to acquire industrial experience on the corrosion area through two internships at Axalta Coating Systems, LLC. All these experiences and achievements have allowed her to gain new personal and professional skills, as well as to broaden her knowledge on corrosion. She has now started a new project where she will study the mechanical properties of polymer complexes and their impact on potential applications.

Background and Experience

Pilar received her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 2008. Six years later, Pilar started graduate school in fall 2014. During that six years gap, Pilar learnt about: ab initio simulations, natural-like gases’ characterization (at high pressures and temperatures), environmental regulations, quality systems, and physicochemical analysis of water and wastewater.


Pilar’s journey through different areas led her to learn and reinforce skills, such as: communication in a foreign language (English), leadership, teamwork, management, and teaching. In school, Pilar continues to work toward her personal development, while making a positive impact on her colleagues and friends. She has served as an officer in student organizations and has lead projects to implement sustainability initiatives at campus. Pilar recognizes the importance of both, individual and team growth.

Graduation and Contact Information

Pilar will graduate on December 2018. If you would like to know more about Pilar, you can find her in LinkedIn or contact her via email at

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