Our faculty members conduct research in a number of interesting areas. Contact information for the faculty is available on this page.
The central theme of my research is to understand the chemistry and biology of peptides and proteins and to develop new approaches for manipulating these properties with purposefully designed small organic molecules. We employ chemical synthesis and combinatorial chemistry as well as spectroscopic, biophysical, and computational methods to accomplish these aims. Project includes:
- Rational design of small molecules for mimicking protein secondary structures to modulate protein-protein interactions involved in cancer
- Development of metabolically stable peptides as molecular imaging agents for non-invasive assessment of pancreatic beta-cells.
Most of the research in our lab involves nanoporous metal oxides, which includes zeolites and related molecular sieves as well as metal-organic frameworks. Projects include the preparation, modification and application of molecular sieves in areas ranging from catalysis to membranes. Supported catalysts and host/guest materials include immobilized enzymes. Pulsed laser deposition and electrostatic deposition are used to prepare molecular sieve films and fibers respectively as part of an effort in membranes for gas separations, photovoltaics, supercapacitors, fuel cells, and drug delivery.
Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry
R&D activities are on nanotechnology, photonic crystals, sensors and actuators, ferroelectrics, novel forms of carbon (especially carbon nanotubes), and conducting polymers
- Solid-state reactions, electrochemical processes and devices
- Materials with unusual mechanical properties
- Design, synthesis, and application of materials with novel electrical, optical, or magnetic properties
My research is focused on the understanding of intermolecular effects in ordered media. In particular we are investigating the effect different media impart upon chemical reactivity with the goal of designing organic systems with specific functional control. This broad research goal encompasses a number of different fields including semiconducting polymers for molecular electronics, biodegradable polymers for drug delivery and the synthesis of carbon nanotubes of one type through topochemical reactions. For a more detailed description of research projects visit ourgroup webpage.
Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics
The focus of our work is to explore elementary processes at surfaces and interfaces of technologically important electronic, photonic, organic and biological heterostructures. For instance, we are developing a detailed mechanistic understanding of semiconductor surface cleaning (both by wet and dry techniques), passivation, and chemical functionalization. We are also probing the interaction of hydrogen in a variety of environments, most recently in storage materials for the hydrogen fuel economy. The work in our group has a direct impact on:
- Micro-, Opto- and Nano-electronics
- H2 storage for hydrogen fuel economy
- Organic electronics, biosensors
- Graphene and Graphene Oxide
For a more detailed description of research projects visit ourgroup webpage.
Our research is focused on crystal growth, structure (X-ray and neutron), and characterization (electrical, magnetic, transport) of intermetallics and oxides for energy applications, including:
- Highly correlated electronic materials
- Magnetic frustrated materials
- Search and discovery of intermetallics with low thermal conductivity
Our research looks at the molecular basis of enhancer function in cell-specific gene expression. We study large protein assemblies that influence chromatin dynamics. We use biochemical, structural and in vivo approaches including x-ray crystallography and hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry. Our research has implications for cancer treatment and regenerative medicine.
The Dieckmann Lab utilizes protein design to engineer new peptide-based materials, bio/nano hybrid systems, and models for more complex biomacromolecules. Projects include:
Bionanotechnology: designed biomolecule-based motifs for the noncovalent functionalization of nanomaterials (e.g. carbon nanotubes)
Thiolate-rich Zn(II) sites and alkyl transfer: how does protein environment control Zn(II) reactivity
Dr. Draper’s current research interests are how nanoparticles interact with mammalian cells and applications of nanoparticles to problems in the emerging field of nanomedicine. To foster work at the interface of biology and nanotechnology, Draper started a bionanosciences initiative at UT Dallas in 2002 that involves interdisciplinary faculty who collaborate on projects at the interface of biology and nanotechnology, including the use of nanoparticles for the photo-thermal ablation of tumor cells, studies on nanoparticle toxicity, and the use of nanoparticles to improve the delivery of macromolecules such as siRNA and DNA to cells. Draper is also the cofounder of a company whose focus centers on translating basic research in nanomedicine to various biomedical markets including the research, diagnostics, therapeutics and veterinary sectors.
The research thrusts of Prof. Ferraris' group are on the design and synthesis of novel polymers for application in electrochemical capacitors, membranes for gas separations, polymeric solar cells, fuel cell membranes, light emitting polymers, and electrochromics.
Associate Professor, UT Southwestern
Our main research focus is to design, develop and evaluate novel nanomaterials and nanoarchitectures for cancer molecular imaging and targeted therapeutic applications. Two design principles are emphasized throughout research: (1) understand tumor pathophysiology and identify key cancer targets to improve biological specificity, and (2) build innovative nanomedicine platforms with non-linear bioresponsive properties to achieve diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy.
For a more detailed description of research projects visit group webpage.
Our research focuses on three areas of research, wherein biologically inspired viral capsids are used to improve the performance and processability of new materials that otherwise would not be as easily accessible without the noncovalent forces provided by these unique scaffolds:
- The use of viral capsids as templates for the formation of well defined capsids for in vivo and in vitro therapeutics and diagnostics.
- Rational design and synthesis of 3-dimentional graphitic material for use in light-weight lithium-air batteries.
- Studying the self-assembly properties of synthetic and biological polymers to form a dielectric media for wrap-around gated carbon nanotube field effect transistors.
For a more detailed description of our group, please visit www.gassensmithlab.com
In molecular simulation research powerful computers are used to accurately model real systems using statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics. This provides a sort of “virtual laboratory” in which almost any property can be measured or examined, including those which are not accessible to experiments. We use simulations to develop an atomic-scale understanding of the behavior of complex systems. We are currently working on:
- Multi-scale modeling of amorphous porous materials, in particular silica aerogels and gel-based composites
- Development of new models for metals and ceramic materials
- Prediction and understanding of the properties of metallic glasses using simulations
- Simple models for understanding and controlling self-assembly
- Understanding phase transitions in confined systems
- New methods for molecular simulations, including advanced Monte Carlo algorithms and robust techniques for locating phase transitions.
Distinguished Chair in Microelectronics
- Electronic materials with an emphasis on dielectrics (low-K, high-K, and gate dielectrics other than SiO 2)
- Field emission materials, thin-film getters, and spacer materials
- Organic electronics
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are one of the two hallmark lesions of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their accumulation has been used to assess the severity of the disease. They are composed of paired helical filaments (PHF), a form of amyloid resulting from the aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau. Our laboratory has found that peptides as short as 3-6 amino acids are able to initiate the formation of twisted filaments, similar to PHF. We believe that these short amyloid-forming peptides provide an excellent model for studying the structural basis of PHF and amyloid, in general. By understanding the structural basis for amyloid formation, a rational design of therapeutic agents able to prevent PHF accumulation can be undertaken. In addition to using short tau-related peptides to understand the basis of amyloid formation, they may be used as targeting agents for amyloid. For example, we have recently shown that contrast agents prepared from these peptides and a gadolinium chelate bind strongly to senile plaque and NFTs and may act as MRI probes for the diagnosis of AD.
Our research goal is to develop novel chemical biology technologies and small molecules in order to probe the molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis, drug resistance, and recurrence. Current projects include:
- Construction of novel combinatorial chemical libraries.
- Discovery of novel small molecule modulators of autophagy for the treatment of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Discovery of small molecule modulators of cancer stem cells.
Our research investigates the bioinorganic chemistry of essential transition metals and metal-based drugs in biological systems. We develop and apply biochemical and biophysical tools to characterize the structure, reactivity and metal binding properties of soluble and membrane proteins and biomolecules involved in transition metal homeostasis. Current projects include:
- Structure and function of transmembrane metal transporters
- Reactivity of transition metal complexes towards proteins and nucleic acids
- Metallochemistry and biophysics of amyloidogenic peptides and brain metalloproteins
For more information visit our group website
Material Science Engineering
Felectronics is an exciting technology which requires expertise in several areas such as physics, chemistry and engineering. Therefore, the students in our group will not only gain experience with state-of-the-art instrumentation and techniques but also gain an understanding of the inter-disciplinary nature of this area. Students also interact with our collaborators at several US universities and laboratories, as well as with collaborators abroad. The Flexible Electronics group in the Materials Science Department at UTD, is focused in the development and integration of these different components. Some of the current projects include:
- Sensors for Detecting Radiation
- Nano-Engineered Materials for Flexible Electronics
- Process Integration (nMOS, pMOS, CMOS, etc.)
- Device modeling and Simulation
Current research in the Musselman Group has 3 emphases with a microscopy theme in common. Projects include:
- Fabrication and testing of polymer-based mixed-matrix membranes for gas separations
- Development and testing of high temperature proton exchange membranes for fuel cells
- Peptide/single-walled carbon nanotube interactions explored using scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy
The overarching theme of my research is the theoretical description and molecular dynamics simulation of interfaces. My primary focus is on the curvature-dependent properties of interfaces. Major projects include the peptide solubilization of carbon nanotubes, the behavior of nanoparticles in fluids and at fluid Interfaces, and the free energy of phase transformations between different lipid self-assemblies. In addition, I develop new simulation tools including multiscale modeling algorithms.
Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences & Mathematics
Work in the Novak Group has focused on the synthesis and properties of a unique family of helical macromolecules, the polycarbodiimides. Inspired by the helices of nature, these polymers display unusual properties including antimicrobial activities, liquid crystallinity, and act as chemical sensors, tunable polarizers, and optical switches. Polycarbodiimides are prepared through a metal catalyzed polymerization of carbodiimides. When chiral catalysts are used, helical polymers with a single screw-sense are produced that display unusual chiro-optic properties including reversible optical switching. Beauty and function. Come play with us.
Our work involves improving the accuracy of nanomaterial toxicity assessments, and advancing the diagnostic and therapeutic applications of nanomaterials. Our areas of expertise include the physiochemical characterization of nanomaterials, the reproducible preparation of purified nanomaterial samples, and direct measurements of metal oxide and carbon nanomaterials inside mammalian cells and aquatic organisms. We are also interested in developing label-free methods to detect carbon nanomaterial contamination in workplace areas.
Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology
Our chemistry group at UT Dallas is involved in the design of novel MR imaging agents that respond to physiology and metabolism, including targeted Gd3+-based agents that respond to binding events in vivo and paramagnetic CEST agents that offer multi-color imaging of metabolic events and that can be turned off and on by application of a radiofrequency pulse.
Other active areas of research include biomedical magnetic resonance techniques, applications of 13C and 2H NMR to studies of intermediary metabolism in animals and humans, in vivo spectroscopy in human tissues.
My research program is centered around the synthesis and coordination chemistry of novel classes of macrocyclic receptors with applications that range from catalysis to medicine to materials science. Specific research areas include:
- The "Wurster's" Crowns - Redox-Active Macrocyclic Receptors
- Novel Lipophilic Hosts/Oligomeric Metal Complexes for use in Cancer Therapy/Diagnosis
- Macrocycle Synthesis and Coordination Chemistry
- Supramolecular Chemistry: Organic Host-Guest Systems
- Bioinorganic Chemistry
Many of the world’s pressing problems, such as clean energy solutions and improving human health, call for the design of new and more advanced materials that serve to meet these challenges. Our group is primarily interested in the design of novel organic and inorganic materials by using the principles of supramolecular chemistry, organic synthesis and biomimetic self-assembly. Specifically, our research focuses on several key areas:
- Developing new methods for the synthesis and processing of porous materials and polymers for the storage of hydrogen, natural gas and electrical power.
- The design and synthesis of novel polycyclic aromatic building blocks for the development of electrically-active and highly-ordered solid state materials.
- Using synthetically functionalized biomolecules (i.e., DNA and peptides) to direct the formation of nanostructured devices and soft-materials.
We are currently looking for highly-motivated graduate and undergraduate students to join us!
My research interests encompass the synthesis and characterization of novel polymeric materials for applications in organic electronics and medicine.
The research projects include:
- Semiconducting polymers for organic photovoltaics
- Block-copolymers containing semiconducting polymers and liquid crystalline polymers as electronic materials with tunable opto-electronic properties
- Thermosensitive biocompatible and biodegradable polymers for drug delivery applications
For a more detailed description of research projects visit ourgroup webpage.
The Advanced Polymer Research Lab (APRL) explores fundamental thermomechanics of smart polymers.
APRL researchers hail from a variety of disciplines including Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, Biology and Biochemistry. We explore fundamental and applied problems in polymer science and engineering with a special focus on shape memory polymers.
Research thrusts include efforts in flexible electronics, smart neural interfaces, radiation processing of materials, 3D printing, energy harvesting, homeland security, biomedical devices, sensors for intellignet packaging, sensors for extreme environments, wearable electronics, implantable electroincs, phased array radars, triple shape polymers, acoustic metamaterials, and electromagnetic metamaterials.
The ultimate goal of Amy Walker’s research is the development of simple, robust materials for constructing complex two- and three-dimensional surfaces by manipulating interfacial chemistry. Metal/SAM, semiconductor/SAM and biomolecule/SAM structures have applications in organic electronics, sensing, catalysis, photovoltaics and optoelectronics. Her group also develops analytical techniques to probe the structures produced.
Current research interests include:
- New Methods for Constructing Metallized Organic Surfaces
- Chemical Bath Deposition of Semiconductors on Organic Surfaces
- Development of Visible Light Nanocomposite Photocatalysts and Catalytic Films for Fuel Cells
- Ionic Liquid Matrices and New Data Analysis Techniques for Imaging Mass Spectrometry
For a more detailed description of research projects, please visit my MSE page.
Associate Dean for Research & Interdisciplinary Programs
- Synthesis of vanadium oxide nanotubes & fibers (VNTs/VNFs) and its application for energy storage
- Composite electrode fabrication using VNTs with Graphene for supercapacitors /batteries
- Functionalization of graphene sheet
- New process development for composite CNT/Graphene fibers
- Synthesis of fluorescent carbon nanomaterials and its application
- Carbon fiber preparation from melt spinable polymers
- Eco-friendly process research of nano-materials synthesis
- Economical process development of biofuels: Conversion of non-edible cellulosics to bio-ethanol.
- Immobilization of nano particles or bio-catalyst on substrate
- Hydrogen/CO2 storage material research using conductive polymer
- Proton Exchange Polymer fuel cell membrane development using PFCP
- Advanced Carbon Nanomaterials: Nanotubes, Fullerenes,
Photonic Crystals and Negative index materials
Conjugated polymers and Molecular Organic solids
Organic Light Emitting Devices
Plastic solar cells
Our research focuses on investigating fundamental structure-property relationships of noble metals on the nano scale and applying new functional nanoparticles in biomedical imaging and nanocatalysis.
Chemical education, organic synthesis/NMR spectroscopy
Research specialization areas:
- Enzyme mechanisms
- Tissue metabolism
Jason L McAfee
Senior Lecturer I Chemistry
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry, and
- Quantitative Methods in Chemistry
I am a small molecule synthetic organic chemist. In my PhD I completed a natural product, Dykellic acid, and then went on to work as a synthetic chemist at Abbott Laboratories designing and synthesizing pharmaceuticals. Now I am working in the Smaldone lab designing and synthesizing novel porous materials for gas and energy storage.
- Updated: December 4, 2015