Welcome to the Auras Lab homepage. In the Team tab, you will find information about me and a list of the current and past members. A link is provided for most members to contact them if you wish.

Rafael Auras, Professor, SoP, MSU

aurasraf(at); NSF Biosketch 

Short bio: I am a Professor at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University. I lead a research group of graduate and undergraduate students, and postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars interested on developing novel biobased and biodegradable polymerstailoring polymer biodegradability, and designing sustainable packaging systems. Our team have conducted research projects for Fortune 500 companies and government sponsored research projects. I am a regular speaker at national and international conferences. I have co-authored two books and 13 book chapters, and co-edited two books. With my team, we have coauthored more than 200 publications and been part of more than 250 oral or poster presentations for professional organizations. I graduated with a B.Sc. in chemical engineering from the FCEQyN, Misiones, Argentina, an M.Sc. in Materials Science and Technology from the UNSAM, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a Ph.D. in packaging from MSU, East Lansing, MI, U.S.  I live in Okemos, Mi with my wife and two sons. 


Current Members, Spring 2024

Undergraduate students

  1. Jordan D'Amario (Fall 2022 - Present) "Biodegradation in simulated composting conditions of polycaprolactone. Assessment of evolved CO2, mineralization and crystallinity of hydrolytic pretreated samples." 

Master students

  1. Dionne Mitchell (Spring 2024 - Present) Tentative area of research "Sterecomplex PLA multilayer structures" - Co-direction with Dr. Noh.
  2. Jordan Temple (Spring 2024 - Present) Tentative area of research "Life Cycle Assessment of Product and Packaging."
  3. Carinna Saldana (Fall 2022 - Present) "Identification of Packaging Barriers to Exporting Specialty Crops to the European Union." 

Ph.D. Students

  1. Jim Macnamara (Fall 2020 – Present) “High Oxygen and Moisture Barrier Compostable Material.”
  2. Dian Xu (Fall 2021 – Present) “Effect of alcoholic solutions to thermomechanical properties of poly(lactic acid)”
  3. Dwi Putri Yudianti Yudison (Fall 2023 - Present) "Life cycle assessment of product and packaging"

Post-doctoral fellows

  1. Anibal Bher (Fall 2021 – Present) “Environmental footprint assessment of current packaging, paper cartons, and new paper blister technology”


Spring 2024 - Most of the members - Jordan, Phoebe, Pooja, and Anibal are missing in action. 

Future Members,

If you are interested on joining our group, please send me an email at: aurasraf AT

Please, include in your email, your CV, your most recent publications (maximum three) if applicable, and any other important information that it is pertinent to your application. 

The subject of your email should be:

Joining the RAA team - First and Last Name - Semester - Join as - Area of Research - Financial support

Check our Areas of Research (e.g, Material development, End of Life, LCA).

Examples of email Subject

Joining the RAA team - John Doe - FS24 - Ph.D. - Biodegradation - Need funding

Joining the RAA team - John Doe - FS24 - Visiting scholar - LCA - Government fellowship

Past Members

Undergraduate students

  1. Phoebe Zagrobelny (Fall 2021 – Spring 2024) “Effect of Pre-treatment on the compostability of biodegradable polymers.”
  2. Hanna Cho (Spring 2022 – Fall 2022) “Accelerated biodegradation of isotropic polyesters and multilayer high oxygen and water barrier films.”
  3. Laura Munday (Fall 2021 – Spring 2022) “Effect of soy and lignin polyols on the biodegradation of bio-based foams at mesophilic composting conditions.”
  4. Sebastian K. Stankiewicz (Spring 2017 – Fall 2017) “Reducing dairy food waste at the consumer level, a life cycle assessment.” Funded through the CANR and the SOP undergraduate research fellowships.
  5. Austin Cooper Barnaby (Summer 2017 – Fall 2017) “Biodegradation of poly(lactic acid) blends.”
  6. Jason Jacob Shaffer (Fall 2016 – Spring 2017) “Effect of engineered nano-particles on the biodegradation of poly(lactic acid) films.” Funded through the CANR undergraduate research fellowships.
  7. Alex Dembowski (Spring 2014 – Spring 2015) “PLA and PET energy process comparisons.” Funded through the CANR and the SOP undergraduate research fellowships.
  8. Julia Beaumier (Spring 2016 – Fall 2016) “Effect of Geobacillus on the biodegradation of poly(lactic acid) films.” Funded through the CANR undergraduate research fellowship.
  9. Connor Pettengill (Spring 2015 – Fall 2016) “Impact of nanoclays on the biodegradation of bio-nanocomposites.” Funded through the CANR and the SOP undergraduate research fellowships
  10. Alyssa Petz (Spring 2012 - Fall 2012) "Biodegradation of modified plastic polymers"
  11. Kathryn Elizabeth Alore (Spring 2007) “Hands on experience with an equipment to measure barrier properties.”
  12. Matthew James McNichols (Spring 2007) “Hands on experience with an equipment to measure barrier properties.”
  13. Kathryn Elizabeth Alore (Fall 2006) “Hands on experience with measurement of can defects.”
  14. Matthew James McNichols (Fall 2006) “History of glass, past, present and future.”

Master students

  1. Abigale Lewis (Fall 2021 – Fall 2023) “Comparative assessment of the environmental footprint of infant formula packaging containers: A cradle-to-gate plus end-of-life LCA using full and streamlined software.”
  2. Dian Xu (Spring 2020 – Fall 2021) “Effect of alcoholic solutions to thermomechanical properties of poly(lactic acid).”
  3. Sebastian K. Stankiewicz (Fall 2017 – Spring 2019) “Modeling fluid milk waste and the role of packaging within the home.” Co-direction with Dr. Susan E. M. Selke
  4. Xinyi Wang (Fall 2016 – Spring 2019) “Development of multilayer PLA/Graphene nanocomposites with high oxygen barrier properties.”
  5. Pooja C. Mayekar (Fall 2015 – Spring 2019) “Effect of surfactants and nano-clay on the biodegradation of poly(lactic acid).”
  6. Wanwarang Limsukon (Fall 2016 – Spring 2019) “The effect of chain extender on the molecular weight and hydrolysis degradation of poly(lactic acid).”
  7. Ning Gong (Fall 2011 – Spring 2014) “Life cycle assessment of subsurface water retention technology.”
  8. Jing Gao (Fall 2011 – Fall 2014) “Using Hansen solubility parameters (HSPS) to develop antioxidant-packaging film to achieve controlled release.”
  9. Saleh Al-Ghamdi (Fall 2012 – Fall 2014) “Synthesis of nanoporous carbohydrate metal-organic framework and encapsulation of selected organic compounds.”
  10. Soohyung Lee (Fall 2011 – Fall 2014) “A preliminary comparison of attributional and consequential life cycle assessment as specified in Ecoinvent V3.0 for packaging made of renewable and non-renewable plastic.”
  11. Siyuan Tian (Fall 2011 – Spring 2014) “Evaluation of hydrolysis of poly(lactic acid) films using H-NMR.”
  12. Tuan Nguyen (Fall 2010 – Spring 2014) “Evaluation of performance of degradation-promoting additives for plastic packaging.” Co-direction with Dr. Susan Selke
  13. Edgar Castro (Spring 2011 – Fall 2013) “Evaluation of performance of degradation-promoting additives for plastic packaging” Codirection with Dr. Susan E. M. Selke
  14. Chaiyatas Chariyachotiler (Summer 2009 – Summer 2011) “Assessment of the properties of PLA sheets with different amounts of post-consumer recycled PLA.” Co-advising with Dr. Susan Selke
  15. Elangovan Dhayalan (Spring 2009 – Fall 2011) “Characterization of metal organic framework and polymer composites and the method of their preparation.”
  16. Praveen Rawal (Fall 07 – Fall 2010) “Comparative performance of PLA and PET bottles for alcohol and sugar acid solutions.”
  17. Hayati Samsudin (Fall 2007 – Fall 2009) “Development and characterization of equilibrium modified atmosphere bio-based packaging systems for blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L., Bluecrop).” Co-advising with Dr. Eva Almenar
  18. Dong Ho Kang (Spring 2008 – Summer 2009) “An Exploration into the use of stepwise regression analysis to determine post-consumer recycled PET contents in PET sheets.”
  19. James Macnamara (Spring 2007 – Summer 2009) “Barrier characteristics of metalized PET on top of print.”
  20. Gaurav Dhoot (Spring 07 – Fall 2008) “Diffusion of eugenol through food contact polymer films using FTIR-ATR flow cell technique.”
  21. Santosh Madival (Spring 2006 – Spring 2008) “Life cycle assessment of PET, OPS and OPLA containers.”
  22. Pankaj Kumar (Fall 2004 – Fall 2007) “Relationship between flavor perception and package configuration systems.”
  23. Nitin Gulati (Spring 2005 - Summer 2007) “Use of QCM technology for measuring barrier properties of biodegradable packaging material.”
  24. Gaurav Nandkishor Kale (Spring 2005 – Spring 2007) “Evaluating compostability of commercially available PLA based packages.”
  25. Benjamin Arroyo (Spring 2005 - Summer 2006 (oral defense, manuscript not submitted)) “The production and quantitative analysis of the optical, physical, mechanical, and barrier properties of cassava-starch based films.”

Ph.D. Students

  1. Pooja C. Mayekar (Summer 2019 - Spring 2024) “Accelerating the biodegradation of poly(lactic acid) at mesophilic temperatures.”
  2. Wanwarang Limsukon (Summer 2019 - Fall 2023) “Kinetic and mechanistic insights into the three-phase structure model and chain scission mechanisms of poly (lactic acid) during hydrolysis.”
  3. Uruchaya Sonchaeng (Spring 2016 – Summer 2019), “Mass transfer properties of poly(lactic acid).”
  4. Edgar Castro-Aguirre (Fall 2013 – Summer 2018), “Increasing the biodegradation rate of poly(lactic acid) in composting conditions.”
  5. Fabiola Maria Iniguez-Franco (Fall 2013 – Spring 2018), “Hydrolytic degradation of neat and modified poly(lactic acid) with nanoparticles and chain extenders by water-ethanol.”
  6. DongHo Kang (Spring 2010 – Spring 2015), “Environmental evaluation of non-alcoholic single-serve PET beverage bottles in the state of California using life cycle assessment and system dynamics.”
  7. Hayati Samsudin (Fall 2009 – Fall 2015), “Migration of antioxidants from poly(lactic acid), PLA, films into food simulants: A parameter estimation approach.”
  8. Ajay Kathuria (Fall 2009 – Fall 2013), “Synthesis and characterization of MOF and its exploration as polymerization catalyst and biobased mixed matrix membrane.”
  9. Sukeewan Detyothin (Spring 2007 – Summer 2012) “Production and characterization of thermoplastic cassava starch, functionalized poly(lactic acid), and their reactive compatibilized blends.”
  10. Sung Wook Hwang (Fall 2007 – Spring 2012) “Release kinetics of a-Tocopherol and resveratrol from poly(lactic acid) and poly(lactic acid)/starch blends.” Co-advising with Dr. Maria Rubino
  11. Kijchavengkul, Thitisilp (Turk) (Fall 2006 – Fall 2010) “Design of poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) mulch films for plasticulture applications: design formulation and degradation study.”

Post-doctoral fellows

  1. Baofang Zhang (Summer 2016 – Spring 2017) “Interaction of organic compounds with coatings based on acrylic resins.”
  2. Xiaoyi Fang (Fall 2015 – Summer 2016) “Interaction of organic compounds with coatings based on acrylic resins.”
  3. Thitisilp Kijchavengkul (Fall 2010 – Summer 2012) “New approach for decontaminating fresh and fresh-cut produce utilizing chlorine dioxide” co-direction with Dr. Maria Rubino
  4. Carlos Diaz (Fall 2011 – Summer 2012) “Migration from polymer-clay nanocompsite systems: method development, validation and modeling,” co-direction with Dr. Maria Rubino
  5. Brajesh Tripathi (Spring 2009 – Fall 2011) “Novel approach for decontaminating fresh and fresh-cut produce utilizing chlorine dioxide gas packaging system.” co-direction with Maria Rubino.
  6. Eva Almenar (Fall 2005 – Fall 2008) “Development of a “Green” active package for prolonging shelf-life of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum ).”

Visiting scholars

  1. Hayati Samsudin (Spring 2023) "Retort of rigid and flexible packaging"
  2. Pattamawadee Nuamduang (Spring 2022 – Fall 2022) “Development of biodegradable antimicrobial films containing lignin nanoparticles entrapped with natural agents,” Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  3. Porawee Katanyoota (Spring 2022 – Fall 2022) Enhancement of biodegradable polyester/thermoplastic starch blend properties through oriented molecular orientation,” Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  4. Puttinan Kiattijiranon (Spring 2022 – Fall 2022) Improvement of functional performances of biodegradable polymers for flexible packaging applications,” Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  5. Nasreddine Benbettaieb (Spring 2022 – Summer 2022) “Development of Fully Bio-Based and Home Compostable Plastic Films.” University of Bourgogne, Dijon, Bourgogne, France.
  6. Anibal Bher (Spring 2020 – Fall 2021) “Preparation and characterization of blends of thermoplastic cassava starch and poly(lactic acid) functionalized with graphene sheets.” CONICET, Misiones, Argentina. 
  7. Maryam Batool (Fall 2020 – Spring 2021), Effect of Vitamin C and Zinc on Chemical Characteristics and Oxidative Stability of Cheddar Cheese in Accelerated Ripening. The University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Lahore, Pakistan. 
  8. Narisara Jaikaew (Fall 2019 – Summer 2020) “Toughening of Polylactide (PLA) Thermoplastics Starch plasticized by glycolyzed PLA from chemical recycling process,” Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University (SIIT), Bangkok, Thailand.
  9. Ainur Ibzhanova (Summer 2019 – Fall 2019) “Development of scientific and technical foundations of biodegradable packaging technology and standardization of new products in accordance with Technical Regulations of the Customs Union (TRCU) 005/2017,” Kazah Agrotechnical University, Republic of Kazakhstan. 
  10. Anibal Bher (Summer 2016 – Fall 2017) “Preparation and characterization of blends of thermoplastic cassava starch and poly(lactic acid) functionalized with graphene sheets.” D. Bridge program with National University of San Martin, San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  11. Ilke Uysal Unalan (Fall 2016 – Fall 2017) “Design and development of graphene-based hierarchically structures for creating multifunctional biodegradable polymeric membranes for food packaging applications.” TUBITAK, Izmir University, Turkey.
  12. Sadia Satti (Fall 2015 – Fall 2016) “Microbial degradation of polyester based biodegradable plastic.” Ph.D. Bridge program with Quaid-e-azam University, Islamabad Pakistan.
  13. Rungsiri Suriyatem (Fall 2015 – Spring 2016) “Development of antioxidant biocomposite film from rice starch and Carbohydrate Derivatives Incorporated with Bee Products.” Ph.D. Bridge program with Chaing Mai, Chaing Mai, Thailand.
  14. Javiera Rubilar (Spring 2014 – Spring 2015) “Design of biodegradable bionanocomposites with tailored antimicrobial properties.” Chile.
  15. Hasan Al-attar (Fall 2015) “Design of smart bionanocomposites films with antimicrobial properties.” KISR, Kuwait, Kuwait.
  16. Helia Bibiana Leon Molina (Fall 2015) “Behavior, kinetics and degradation mechanism of Cyclic Olefin Copolymers in the Presence of Degradations Promoting Additives.” CIAD, CONACYT, México.
  17. Youn Suk Lee (Spring 2013 – Spring 2014) “Reaction and diffusion of chlorine dioxide gas under dark and light conditions at different temperature.” Yonsei University, Wonju, Kangwon-do, Sabbatical leave.
  18. Marcelo A. Concalves Bardi (Spring 2013 – Fall 2013) “Study of the environmental impact generated by radiation-cured print inks on post-consuming biodegradable plastic packaging.” Ph.D. Bridge program with University of Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  19. Pattarin Leelaphiwat (Spring 2013 – Fall 2013) “Interaction between reactive aroma compounds in fresh herbs and packaging films.” Ph.D. Bridge program with Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  20. Iman Shahabi Ghahfarrokhi (Spring 2013 – Summer 2013) “Characterization of nanoclays using ATR-FTIR.” Iran.
  21. Omar Dib (Summer 2013 – Fall 2013) “Synthesis and characterization of cyclodextrin metallic organic framework (CDMOF) structures.” M.Sc. Bridge program with American University of Beirut.
  22. Gustavo Perotti (Fall 2011 – Summer 2012) “Development of organic-inorganic nanocomposites based on biodegradable polymers and layered structures,”D. Bridge program with University of Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  23. Mohamad Abiad (Fall 2011) “Development of edible metallic organic frameworks,” University of Beirut, Lebanon.
  24. Hyunmo Jung, (Spring 2009- Spring 2011) “Design of active packaging,” Kyongbuk College of Science, Kyongbuk, Korea.
  25. Heberto Vazquez (Spring 2009 - Summer 2009) “Migration of BHT from poly(lactic acid) films,” Envases de Alimentos, CIAD, A.C.  Unidad Hermosillo, Carret. La Victoria km. 0.6, Hermosillo, Son., 83000 México.
  26. Changqing Fang (Fall 2008 – Fall 2009) “DDGS adhesives and PLA and starch blends,” co-direction with Dr. Susan Selke. 
  27. Herlinda Soto Valdez, (Fall 2007 – Fall 2008) “Migration of antioxidant (Resveratrol and a-Tocopherol) from polylactide polymers.” Envases de Alimentos, CIAD, A.C.  Unidad Hermosillo, Carret. La Victoria km. 0.6, Hermosillo, Son., 83000  México. Fulbrigth Fellow – Sabbatical leave.
  28. Jin Kie Shim (Summer 2007 – Fall 2008) “Design of high barrier blíster packaging structure,” Korea Institute of Industrial Technology