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matt_kipper

Dr. Matt J. Kipper recently received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award, The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Dr. Kipper’s project “Development of complex polysaccharide nanostructures via electrostatic self-assembly” is a combination of research and educational efforts that will develop technology to tailor the assembly of complex nanostructured materials from polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are an important class of biologically derived polymers that have many biochemical and biomechanical functions. Their functions include cell-cell communication, regulation of enzyme activity, mediation of growth factors responsible for tissue maintenance and repair, controlling assembly of organs at the nanometer scale, and imparting mechanical strength to tissues. These biological activities depend upon the organization of polysaccharides at the nanometer length scale. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. This is much smaller than living cells. Viruses and very large molecules are measured in nanometers.)

Because of their vast range of biological activity, polysaccharides have many potential applications as biomedical materials in areas such as drug and vaccine delivery, cell and tissue engineering, biosensors, and medical diagnostics. In order to take advantage of the full range of the biological functions of polysaccharides, materials scientists must be able to tune the nanoscale organization of these important biopolymers. Dr. Kipper is developing techniques to control the assembly of polysaccharides at the nanoscale, by taking advantage of their polyelectrolyte nature. Polyelectrolytes are polymers that carry charged groups. These strong electrostatic interactions dictate the behavior of polyelectrolytes in solution and at surfaces and interfaces. Dr. Kipper has already demonstrated how these interactions can be used to tune the assembly of polysaccharides to form nanomaterials with controlled feature size and composition.

Dr. Kipper’s research supported by the CAREER award will develop a series of polysaccharides with tunable polyelectrolyte properties so that their nanoscale self-assembly can be studied in detail. These will then be used to construct materials that mimic the biologically derived nanoassemblies of polysaccharides that impart important biochemical and biomechanical properties to the tissues in which they are found.

 

 

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Colorado State University
1370 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1370
Phone: (970) 491-5252
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Email: cbe@engr.colostate.edu