Scale-Up Design for Biodegradable Vanillin-Based Polymer Production; Characterization of the Relationship Between Media Technology and Development of the Anti-Vaccination Movement

Dane, Jillian, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical capstone project aims to research scaleup of an environmentally sustainable manufacturing process for a biologically-sourced polymer with properties that make it a suitable substitute for PET plastic. The primary deliverable of the technical project is the design of a fully-operational plant to mass-produce a bioplastic, poly-dihydroferulic acid (PHFA), using the vanillin synthetic scheme described by Mialon et al., and the corresponding patent of Mialon and Miller (2010; 2015). By transitioning the synthesis from a laboratory-scale batch to an industrial-scale continuous process while optimizing issues of energy efficiency, operational safety, and waste abatement, the design allows for profitable production of the bioplastic in quantities required for commercial applications. In addition to producing a sustainable product, the environmental sustainability of the process design itself has been a crucial component of the project to ensure that the environmental benefit of the PHFA polymer is not diminished by its manufacture.

Opposition and hesitancy towards vaccination in the United States has surged in the past two decades. The unofficially named ‘anti-vaccination movement’ propagates dangerous misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, the intentions of healthcare professionals, and the ramifications of disease. As advancements in media technology such as the Internet and social media have reconfigured how people disseminate and receive information, so too has the propagation of anti-vaccine rhetoric. The STS Thesis investigates the relationship between the development of media and communications technology and growth of the anti-vaccination movement after 1998 through the lens of Actor-Network Theory. Research methods include documentary research, historical case studies, policy analysis, discourse analysis, network analysis, and wicked problem framing. Due to the youth of the modern anti-vaccine movement and social media, there is a severe lack of research investigating their societal implications. The objective of the Thesis is to piece together the findings of previous works published at various dates after 1998 in order to synthesize a body of comprehensive research spanning the entire relevant timeline of the movement.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor-Network Theory, anti-vaccine movement, social media, vanillin-derived polymers

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Eric Anderson
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Christopher Brodie, Ethan Bush, Gavin
Restifo, Rebecca Richardson

Issued Date: