Maria Santore


Research areas include interfacial polymer physics, dynamics, and colloidal phenomena: polymer and protein adsorption, biomaterial and biomimetic membranes, surface modification (polymer brushes, placement of functionalized surface clusters), adhesion and bioadhesion (of colloidal particles, bacteria, cells), coupling of interfacial forces with external fields. Applications include sensors, biomedical surfaces for implants and diagnostics, drug delivery vehicles, manipulation of colloidal stability, inks, paints, and coatings.

Current Research
Reversible physical bonds, each comprising a few kT in energy, endow a material with intrinsic dynamic versatility. It is only through restructuring, afforded by reversible interactions, that materials can respond to stimuli and communicate with their environments. This is most evident in living systems, which constantly adapt to and manipulate their surroundings; however, dynamic responsiveness is also key to smart materials, drug delivery systems, and sensing elements. Research in the Santore lab focuses on how forces and dynamics at the molecular and nanometer levels drive behavior at the micron scale of colloidal particles and bacteria, the 10-micron scale of cells, and larger observable length scales. We exploit principles of colloid chemistry and interfacial polymer physics to develop new materials with clever behaviors, taking inspiration from Nature: White blood cells exhibit precise rolling motion signatures on blood vessel walls in response to injury; Metastatic cancer cells prefer to invade some organs but not others; The immune system remembers diseases (and vaccines) of the parent animal for decades, engaging in highly targeted attack of invasive organisms, yet not attacking other cells of the parent animal. Students in the Santore lab create materials that exploit the underlying biophysical principles at work in these and other examples to produce new platforms for drug delivery, sensors, and biomaterials for implants, diagnostics and cell processing (tissue engineering).

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Academic Background

  • BS Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 1985
  • PhD Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, 1989
"How Bacteria Adhere to Brushy PEG Surfaces: Clinging to Flaws and Compressing the Brush"S. Gon, K.N. Kumar, K. Nusslein, and M.M. Santore*, Macromolecules, 45, 8373-8381 (2012).
"Using Flow to Switch the Valency of Bacterial Capture on Engineered Surfaces Containing Immobilized Nanoparticles" B. Fang, S. Gon, M.H. Park, K.N. Kumar, V.M. Rotello, K. Nusslein, and M.M. Santore*, Langmuir, 28, 7803-7810 (2012).
"Sensitivity of Protein Adsorption to Architectural Variations in a Protein-Resistant Polymer Brush Containing Engineered Nanoscale Adhesive Sites" S. Gon and M.M. Santore*, Langmuir, 27, 15083-15091 (2011).
"Interaction of Cationic Proteins and Polypeptides with Biocompatible Cationically-Anchored PEG Brushes" S. Gon, B. Fang, and M.M. Santore*, Macromolecules, 44, 8161-8168 (2011).
Contact Info

Department of Polymer Science and Engineering
Room A417 Conte Research Center
120 Governors Drive
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 577-1417