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Paula Hammond

Chemical engineer and engineering professor Paula Therese Hammond was born in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan. Although she grew up wanting to become a writer, Hammond changed her mind after taking a junior high school chemistry class. She was hooked by the idea of using two materials to create a something completely different. After graduating from high school, Hammond attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she obtained her B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1984. She was then hired by Motorola in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she worked for two years. In 1988, Hammond earned her M.S. degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and then returned to MIT to earn her Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering in 1993.

Following a postdoctoral research fellowship in chemistry at Harvard University, where she became interested in surface chemistry, Hammond went on to become a faculty member of MIT. In 2003, she worked as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, focusing on a project that allowed for the creation of polymers that form micelles in water. These isolated packages could be used to assist in drug delivery. Hammond is the Bayer Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering, and serves as its Executive Officer. Additionally, she has participated in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also helped found the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN), whose mission is to help design more functional technology for the nation’s soldiers. Hammond’s research interests include the nanoscale design of biomaterials, macromolecular design and synthesis, and directed assembly using surface templates. In 2010, Hammond made a research agreement with Ferrosan A/S, a pharmaceutical company, to develop a bandage that would use Hammond’s technological innovations in Ferrosan’s collagen bandages. Throughout her career, Hammond has served as a mentor to many graduate and undergraduate students and has published nearly 150 scholarly articles pertaining to her research in chemical engineering. She has also encouraged an increase in the presence of minority scientists and engineers at MIT by chairing the Initiative on Faculty, Race and Diversity.

Hammond has won numerous awards for her work as a scientist and as a professor. She was named the Bayer Distinguished Lecturer in 2004 and the Mark Hyman, Jr. Career Development Chair in 2003. In 2010, the Harvard Foundation awarded her the Scientist of the Year Award at the annual Albert Einstein Science Conference. Hammond has also been named one of the “Top 100 Science Stories of 2008,” by Discover Magazine. Hammond is married to Carmon Cunningham, and they have one son, James.

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Chemical engineer and engineering professor Paula Hammond (1963 - )


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Georgia Technical Research Institute

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<a href="">Tape: 1 Slating of Paula Hammond's interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond lists her favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond talks about her mother's family background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond talks about her mother's background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond talks about her mother studying nursing at Howard University and Wayne State University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond talks about her father's family background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Paula Hammond talks about her father's background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond talks about her father's community involvement</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond talks about her likeness to her parents</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond talks about her brothers, Gordon Francis Goodwin and Tyehimba Jess</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond recalls her earliest childhood memories</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond talks about growing up in northwest Detroit, Michigan</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Paula Hammond talks about Motown and the music of her childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about her early school days</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about her most memorable teachers</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond discusses her early aspirations to become a writer</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond describes the cultural changes in Detroit, Michigan and increasing gang activity</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about her decision to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about the professors that mentored and inspired her</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Paula Hammond talks about meeting her husband, John Hammond</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks describes the discrimination she faced while working at Motorola in Fort Lauderdale, Florida</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about working at Georgia Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about her doctoral studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about her post-doctoral research at Harvard University</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about her return to Massachusetts Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond describes her current research concerning the directed assembly of nanomaterials</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond discusses the practical application of her research</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about liquid crystalline and block polymers</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about dendritic block copolymers and tissue engineering</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Paula Hammond talks about the use of biomaterials in the human body</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond discusses nanoparticle drug delivery and other discoveries</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond talks about her honors and awards</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond talks about her legacy</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond gives advice to young minority students of science</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond reflects on her career</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond talks about her family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Paula Hammond tells how she would like to be remembered</a>







Paula Hammond describes her current research concerning the directed assembly of nanomaterials
Paula Hammond discusses nanoparticle drug delivery and other discoveries
All right. Now, since you've been here, professionally you've been involved with--and I'm going to ask you to explain some of these things.$$Yes. Sure.$$It seems that we have a menu of your--of the areas you concentrate in.$$Oh, sure. And I can help you narrow them too, if some of them are--some may be more important than others, you know.$$$$Okay. Well, what about macromolecular design and synthesis?$$All right. That just refers to the fact that we make new polymers. We actually, in my group, have a couple of different skill sets. One of them is what you just described. We can, understanding the function that we want a polymer system to have, design the polymer to do what we anticipate it needs to do. So, we actually use synthetic chemistry as a tool in that case to make a new material system that will do what, you know, the desired function.$$Okay. Now, I don't know if it's time to talk about this or not, but this is--I guess this what you--this is the core of what you're doing now. I guess, it's you're using-- you're doing nanomaterials--$$That's right.$$--where you're able to layer different compounds together and make new materials.$$That's right. Exactly. And, in fact, that's the other skill set that we use. We put that all in the category of self-assembly or directed assembly. We take a material that has a certain interaction with another material, and in a controlled fashion, assemble a new structure from those two systems, two or more systems. Sometimes even one singular system can undergo soft assembly. In this case it's two systems. We're taking a positively and negatively-charged material and alternating them. And, in doing so, we create nanoscale layers, and we build these materials nano layers at a time, and we can put different material systems into different layers. With that level of control, we can design a material system from the bottom up, and determine what function exists, and how it will function based on what we incorporate into the film.$$Okay. And this is--the final product is a thin film, right?$$The final product is a very thin film, sometimes as thin as a few (tenths?) of nanometers; sometimes as thick as microns. And, we can actually coat a very broad range of things, very large structures as large as--well, there's no limit. It essentially can be--very large structures can be coated or very, fine, tiny structures and features can be coated. So, we can coat everything from a nano particle that's used for drug delivery, to an electrode that is used in electrical chemical energy applications, to a very large surface that is used as an optical reflector for an antireflective surface for a large glass structure, for example.$$Okay. So, this is what you mean by self-organized polymer systems?$$Yes. That's one of the ways in which we generate self-organized polymer systems. The other is to use that synthetic tool to create a molecule that assembles with itself in water, and we make some of those systems as well. They assemble into micellar particles, small nanoparticles when they're in water, based on hydrophobic or water hating and hydrophilic or water-loving segments.$$Okay. Okay. What about alternating electrostatic layer-by-layer assembly?$$Yes.$$That's what you just described.$$That's what I just described.$$Okay.$$Layer-by-layer assembly. The automated pieces that we--the process I was describing originally was done by dipping and allowing time for the material to absorb it to go on time. We developed an automated approach that sprays these systems one after the other, and we can generate the films much faster. One of my students invented this approach. We patented it, and we actually have a company he founded called, Svaya Nanotechnologies in Sunnyvale, California. It was founded in 2009, and it's in its third round of funding right now. And he's the one who's coating things that are as large as this table or long, rolled, reel-to-reel pieces of film, using the layer-by-layer technique.$All right. Now, what have been, I guess, your career research highlights? I know--now, you teach and do research, right?$$I teach and do research. That's right. I would say some of the career highlights include some of our more recent work, including nanoparticle drug delivery work that we've been doing. We've been able to find, very recently in our lab, a way to generate RNA, which is the mechanism we can use to turn off bad genes that can cause disease or promote disease in a way that is very unique. It allows us to deliver a large amount of RNA in a nanoparticle without causing toxic side effects, which are common with other methods of RNA encapsulation. So, that's something I think is a highlight, and we just published the work last year. Some of the earlier highlights include the work that we've done in designing these layer-by-layer films to release different drugs at different times, and it's something that we've been able to demonstrate with simple systems, but we're now trying to make more advanced films so that you can, for the implant example, release antibiotics, get rid of any infection, and release the growth factors to bring in these new healthy cells to the body.$$Okay. Now, we were reading about a partnership--well, a research agreement that you all made with--that MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] made with Farrosan.$$Oh, yes. That's right. This is with the sponge that stops bleeding, essentially. And we, actually, from that work developed a coating that can be released or deployed very rapidly. And that's another very recent highlight in our work, which we hope will, ultimately, be licensed, and used--deployed to the Army.$$Okay. That's exciting stuff. Now, you're written over 150 articles or maybe more by now. I know this is an old project.$$Oh, yes. Yes. It's a little over 200 now, but it's close (laughs).