USM research helping protect from the football field to the batt - - The News for South Mississippi

USM research helping protect from the football field to the battlefield


The University of Southern Mississippi is doing some important work to help protect the human brain from serious injuries.

The polymer science technology developed at USM is already being used in football helmets worn by players in the NFL. The university is now trying to develop a helmet to protect our military fighters on the battlefield.

Summer campers at the Infinity Science Center in Hancock County learned about the life saving polymer science technology being developed at USM to protect the brain from damage.

"So the faster things are going or the heavier things are, the more force is associated with them. So when we think about athletes, football players in particular, they weigh a lot, right? They are heavy, right? When you combine the human brain and this force that can lead to injuries," said Dr. Olivia McNair, a USM Polymer Scientist.

The students were then able to see some of the research and development happening at USM with special foams and plastics to improve the protection helmets offer.

McNair said, "USM is in the process of developing a really phenomenal research center for this type of testing."

That testing will soon move into a different type of helmet protection - helmets for military war fighters on the battlefield.

"USM was just given by the United States Department of Defense for the military a $4.9 million grant to do this research. And with that we're going to buy a lot of equipment for testing and lots of materials. There is a lot of work to do. I'm going to be in charge of that work from the polymer science side. So we're trying to see if the technology from the football helmet can be transferred to the war fighter," explained McNair.

The USM polymer scientists told the crowd that 24 NFL players wore the helmet developed at USM during last year's Super Bowl.

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