Photo of the exterior of the Life Science Laboratories on the UMass Amherst campus
Honors and Awards

Chemical Engineering’s Sarah Perry to Receive American Chemical Society Young Investigator Award

Sarah Perry
Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has been chosen as one of two national recipients of the 2024 American Chemical Society (ACS) Macro Letters / Biomacromolecules / Macromolecules Young Investigator Award for her contributions to the field of polyelectrolyte self-assembly and the incorporation of proteins into these assemblies.

Perry and fellow award recipient Brett Fors, of Cornell University, will be honored during an award symposium at the ACS Fall 2024 meeting and exposition from August 18-22 in Denver, Colorado.

Group research in the Perry Lab utilizes self-assembly, molecular engineering and microfluidic technologies with a goal of understanding and mimicking biomaterials to address real-world challenges.

“My group works on self-assembling materials. We are interested in understanding how we can use different interactions between molecules to make and tune materials, and there is a huge range of interesting questions that we can pursue,” Perry explains.

Much of the work that Perry has done has used electrostatic interactions. Polyelectrolyte complexation involves self-assembly driven by the interaction of oppositely charged polymers, surfactants, proteins, etc.

According to Perry, “Polyelectrolyte complexes have been known for nearly a century. These materials are how your shampoos work. Industry has long used polyelectrolyte complexes to encapsulate flavors and fragrances. The assembly of these materials can even be used to mimic the texture and mouth feel of fats/oils in fat-free salad dressing.”

For more information and detail on Perry’s research and collaboration, visit the College of Engineering news webpage.

An illustration detailing how to enable X-ray crystallography to capture a 3-D rendering of a protein at many different time points

The advancement would enable structural biology experiments to provide more info on drug binding and aid in the development of new therapies.