Jessica Schiffman Abstract

Plenary Talk: Jessica Schiffman, Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst:
“Engineering biomaterials inspired by nature”


Surface contamination by microorganisms is of great concern across many applications and industries, ranging from wound dressings used for health care to membranes used for water purification. As both microbial resistance and infectious diseases remain, new approaches to delay the onset of biofilm formation with less evolutionary pressure on pathogens are needed. My research team is comprised of chemical engineers, material scientists, microbiologists, and polymer physicists using structure-property relationships and green chemistry to invent materials that improve human health and the environment. In this presentation, I will first provide background on strategies taken to develop antibacterial and antifouling materials and tie them into a few examples from my laboratory’s ongoing research. For example, the effect that the fundamental properties of polymer coatings have on the adhesion of bacteria will be discussed. Also, as an example of our work on engineered living materials, I will illustrate how we can design biopolymer nanofibers to deliver living bacteria where they are needed the most. The overall goal of this talk is to highlight some of our recent findings and how these results can guide the green engineering of multifunctional materials that improve human health.


Jessica D. Schiffman is a Full Professor and the Gary R. Lapidus Professor in the chemical engineering department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Schiffman received her B.S. in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers University and her M.Eng. in Materials Science and Engineering, before working as an Engineer at Stryker Orthopedics. She next received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Drexel University before completing a postdoctoral position in Yale University’s environmental engineering department. Since 2011, Schiffman has directed an imaginative research group that invents polymer-based materials that address grand challenges in human health, the environment, and industry. She has received several research awards, including the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces Young Investigator Award and being named an Influential Researchers by Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. In recognition of her dedication to mentoring and teaching, Schiffman was awarded the UMass-wide Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, the NSF ADVANCE Faculty Mentor Award, and the Outstanding Teaching Award. From 2021-2022, she served as the interim Department Head of the department of chemical engineering and prior to that as the associate Department Head. Schiffman currently is the Deputy Editor of ACS Applied Engineering Materials, an international and interdisciplinary forum devoted to original research.