The innovation engine for new materials

Russell J. Composto

Russell J. Composto is Professor of Materials Science and Engineering with secondary appointments in Bioengineering, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Broadly, his research uses polymer physics and chemistry principles to engineer interfaces, thermodynamics and dynamics of hybrid systems. Assembly-structure-property relationships in soft matter are an underlying research theme. By understanding the thermodynamic and kinetic behavior of soft matter, advanced materials are created by controlling surface segregation, phase separation, dispersion/aggregation of nanoparticles and molecular/particle transport. Biomolecular and cellular studies investigate stimuli responsive bilayer brushes, cellular adhesion and spreading, cell nanomechanics, molecular motors and molecular attachment on patterned surfaces. Applications range from tuning optical properties to antimicrobial coatings. Advanced characterization tools include ion scattering, neutron scattering and reflectivity, atomic force microscopy combined with imaging. At Penn, Composto served as Graduate Group Chair (2002-09,11-13). He is currently director of the NSF/NBIC scanning probe facility and serves on the executive committee. He is co-founder of GSL Biologix, which makes antibacterial coatings. He was Chair of the Division of Polymer Physics, American Physical Society (2009-10) and received a Special Creativity Award from NSF/ Materials Research (2012). In 2014, he received the Marshall Mentoring Award from the NE Associate of Graduate Schools, the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring, and the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising.