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Clemson University
college of agriculture, forestry and life sciences clemson university

James Sternberg

Assistant Professor
Sustainable Packaging
Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences Department

Office: P&A 234



Educational Background

Ph.D. Automotive Engineering
Clemson University 2020

M.S. Chemistry
University of Florida 2015

B.S. Chemistry
Furman University 2004

Courses Taught

One undergraduate and one graduate course in sustainability of packaging materials.


Dr. Sternberg has a background in chemistry and material science having completed his Ph.D. on the study of biobased polymers, foams, chemical recycling, and lifecycle assessment. His current position centers on innovating new materials for packaging applications and learning new ways to increase the efficiency of organic composting or chemical recycling of packaging waste.

Research Interests

Using renewable materials for polymers, foams, films, and coatings for packaging applications. Measuring the rate of compostability of new and existing packaging materials. Chemical recycling of one-time-use containers and upcycling of recycled materials to higher value materials. Transformation of agricultural by-products to activated carbon for energy applications and new catalyst design.

Lab Members

Katheryn Evancho, M.S. Packaging Sciences, 2025
Sauthiska Kaumadi, M.S. Packaging Sciences, 2025


1. Sternberg, J. Pilla, S. (2022) From Petroleum to Biobased Crude: A Thermoplastic Polyurethane from Lignin-oil without Isocyanates. Conference proceedings at ANTEC 2022.

2. Sternberg, J., Sequerth, O. & Pilla, S. Green chemistry design in polymers derived from lignin: review and perspective. Progress in Polymer Science 113, 101344 (2021).

3. Sternberg, J. & Pilla, S. Materials for the biorefinery: high bio-content, shape memory Kraft lignin-derived non-isocyanate polyurethane foams using a non-toxic protocol. Green Chem. 20, 6922–6935 (2020).

4. Sternberg, J. Pilla, S. (2020) A Green Polyurethane from Lignin: Moving Beyond the Use of Diisocyanates with 100% Non-toxic Reagents. Conference proceeding at ANTEC 2020.

5. Sternberg, J. & Pilla, S. Chemical recycling of a lignin-based non-isocyanate polyurethane foam. Nat. Sustain. 2023 1–9 (2023) doi:10.1038/s41893-022-01022-3.

6. Pilla, Srikanth; Sternberg J. Non-Isocyanate Polyurethanes from Biobased Polyols. USA; 63/034,584, 2020.

7. Pilla, Srikanth; Sternberg J. Incorporation of Bio-Derived Aromatic Structures in Extended Polyamide Networks. USA; 63/053,977, 2020.

8. Pilla, Srikanth; Sternberg J. Karanfil, T. Powdered Activated Carbon for the Removal of Taste and Odor Compounds from Water, USA: 63/252,899.


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