Padma Rajagopalan, associate professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the Robert H. Hord Jr. Chemical Engineering Fellowship.

The Robert H. Hord Jr. Chemical Engineering Fellowship was established by a gift from the late Robert H. Hord, Jr. Mr. Hord, a 1950 graduate of the College of Engineering who was an enthusiastic supporter of Virginia Tech’s chemical and mechanical engineering programs. The fellowship acknowledges and rewards faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering who have shown exceptional merit in research, teaching, and/or service.

Rajagopalan joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2007, and was promoted to associate professor in 2011. In 2010, she received the Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the movement of cells under complex environments and in the presence of conflicting chemical and mechanical stimuli. These studies promise to provide new insights into tumor metastasis, wound healing, and developmental biology.

Rajagopalan is an emerging leader in the field of liver tissue engineering. She has pioneered unique engineered tissue mimics that dramatically improve our ability to maintain stable and functional cultures of liver cells outside the body. She has developed the first 3-D liver mimic that can recapitulate several critical aspects of liver architecture that are found within the body.

She has a strong record of obtaining funding for her research. She has been awarded eight grants totaling more than $3.5 million from multiple agencies including the NSF, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency. She currently serves as principal investigator on seven of these grants.

At Virginia Tech, she founded and co-directs the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Center for Systems Biology of Engineered Tissues. The center seeks to define a new synthesis between tissue engineering and systems biology. Her vision for the center is that seamlessly intertwined experimental and computational models will drive the next generation of advances in tissue engineering and in systems biology.

She serves as the program director for a new interdisciplinary graduate education program on Computational Tissue Engineering. The program focuses on training a new community of graduate students at the confluence of tissue engineering, systems biology, and computer science.

Rajagopalan received her bachelor's degree and master's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and her Ph.D. from Brown University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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