Padma Rajagopalan, PhD
Padma Rajagopalan, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Padma Rajagopalan joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech in January 2007 and is an associate professor. She also holds appointments in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES), in the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute (MII) and in the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she was the PC Rossin Endowed Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Lehigh University.
Prior to joining the faculty at Lehigh, Dr. Rajagopalan was a research associate at the Center for Engineering in Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rajagopalan earned her bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India and obtained her Ph.D. from Brown University. In 2007, she was the Chair of the Women’s Initiative Committee at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: Dr. Rajagopalan’s research interests include hepatic tissue engineering, self assembly of polyelectrolytes, cell-matrix interactions, chemotaxis and mechanotaxis, corneal tissue engineering and nanostructured materials.
DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: The successful design of tissue-engineered constructs drives the need to design novel biocompatible materials and study their interactions with living cells. The field of tissue engineering is highly interdisciplinary and brings together people with knowledge in materials science, chemical engineering, chemistry, cell and developmental biology, immunology, and surgical expertise to solve a range of open problems.
My research focuses on the development of model tissue constructs or functional tissue units and the study of cell-substratum interactions. A primary goal of my research group is to design tissue constructs that mimic the native structure of tissues in vivo and to systematically probe cellular response to a variety of cues. This involves the fabrication of biocompatible scaffolds and templates, and more importantly tailoring surface and bulk properties. Another research interest of our group is to quantify cell-substratum interactions. Specifically, our studies focus on how chemical and mechanical properties of an underlying substratum affect cellular motility and contractility. An increasing focus of my research is to utilize computationally-driven tissue engineering to develop models to predict tissue function, for example, to understand basic liver biology and to study the toxic effects of environmental chemicals on the liver.