The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sarah Perry

Associate Professor


Research areas include polymer self-assembly, complex coacervation, biomimetic microenvironments, thermostable vaccine formulations.


Current Research
Research in the Perry Lab utilizes self-assembly, molecular design, and microfluidic technologies to generate biologically relevant microenvironments to study and enable the implementation of biomolecules to address real-world challenges. Individually, microfluidics represents an enabling technology for small volume, high-throughput analyses, while control over molecular interactions in self-assembling polyelectrolyte systems can be used to examine the interplay between biomacromolecules and the intracellular environment. Together, these capabilities can be coupled to generate artificial organelle-like structures for use in applications ranging from biochemistry to biocatalysis, drug delivery, and biomedicine.

The use of proteins, viruses, and other biomolecules in real-world applications such as vaccines, biocatalysis, and biosensors requires an understanding of how these moieties interact with their environment.  For instance, proteins within cells are functional at very high temperatures, while purified proteins typically require refrigeration in order to remain stable.  We seek to use self-assembling biomimetic polymers to understand and recapitulate the stabilizing conditions found inside of living cells.  This research will benefit from the use of high-throughput microfluidic assays and from the predictive power of molecular simulations and theoretical models.  Our goal is to enhance the thermal stability of proteins and viruses for a variety of applications, including vaccines and therapeutics.

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Academic Background

  • BS University of Arizona, Chemical Engineering, 2002
  • BS University of Arizona, Chemistry, 2003
  • MS University of Arizona, Chemical Engineering, 2005
  • PhD University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, 2010
  • Post-Doctoral Training University of California at Berkeley, Bioengineering
  • Post-Doctoral Training University of Chicago, Institute for Molecular Engineering
W.C. Blocher McTigue, S.L. Perry, "Incorporation of Proteins into Complex Coacervates," Methods in Enzymology, (2020)
W.C. Blocher McTigue, S.L. Perry, "Protein Encapsulation using Complex Coacervates: What Nature has to Teach Us," Small, (2020), 16(27), 1907671.
C.E. Sing, S.L. Perry, "Recent Progress in the Science of Complex Coacervation," Soft Matter, (2020), 16, 2885-2914.
S.L. Perry, D.J. McClements, "Recent Advances in Encapsulation, Protection, and Oral Delivery of Bioactive Proteins and Peptides using Colloidal Systems," Molecules, (2020), 25(5), 1161.
W.C. Blocher McTigue, S.L. Perry, Design Rules for Encapsulating Proteins into Complex Coacervates, Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 3089-3103.
S.L. Perry, Phase Separation: Bridging Polymer Physics and Biology, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science, 2019, 39, 86-97.
T.K. Lytle, L.W. Chang, N. Markiewicz, S.L. Perry, C.E. Sing, Designing Electrostatic Interactions via Polyelectrolyte Monomer Sequence, ACS Central Science, 2019, 5(4), 709-718.
X. Meng, J.D. Schiffman, S.L. Perry, Electrospinning Cargo-containing Polyelectrolyte Complex Fibers: Correlating Molecular Interactions to Complex Coacervate Phase Behavior and Fiber Formation, Macromolecules, 2018, 51(21), 8821-8832.
X. Meng, S.L. Perry, J.D. Schiffman, Complex Coacervation: Chemically Stable Fibers Electrospun from Aqueous Polyelectrolyte Solutions, ACS Macro Letters, 2017, 6, 505-511.
W.C. Blocher, S.L. Perry, Biomimetic Complex Coacervate-Based Materials for Biomedicine, WIREs Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology, 2017, 9(4), e1442.
L.W. Chang, T.K. Lytle, M. Radhakrishna, J.J. Madinya, J. Vélez, C.E. Sing, S.L. Perry, Sequence and Entropy-Based Control of Complex Coacervates, Nature Communications, 2017, 8, 1273.
Contact Info

Department of Chemical Engineering
LSL N563
240 Thatcher Road
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-6252