Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

Faculty Spotlight - Spring 2014


Dr. Ruilan Guo
Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Dr. Ruilan Guo joined Notre Dame’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in January 2012. She is a 2013 recipient of a Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Research Program award. The five-year DOE CAREER grant of $750,000 supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science.

Ruilan’s research combines chemistry and engineering principles for the molecular design and synthesis of functional polymer and polymer-based membrane materials for sustainable energy and environmental applications. Supported by her DOE CAREER grant, Ruilan is particularly excited about her group's current research on incorporating bulky and shape-persistent iptycene units into a polymer backbone structure. This hierarchically controlled macromolecular architecture enables both fast and selective small molecule or ion transport. These newly designed polymer materials are expected to provide a completely new membrane platform that has great potential not only for gas separations and fuel cell membranes as proposed in her DOE project, but also for many other energy-related applications such as polymer-ion batteries, and electrodialysis. The Guo lab’s interdisciplinary research is dedicated to exploring a fundamental understanding of the structure-property relationship over multiple length scales to provide useful functional polymer materials that enable a sustainable energy future.

In addition to her research, Ruilan teaches an Engineering Materials class for undergraduate engineers and a Polymer Science and Engineering class targeted to senior and graduate level students in all disciplines. She comes from a family of teachers and feels teaching is very fulfilling as students comment that the class is connected to things they see in their everyday life. Ruilan’s polymer class stimulates students’ interest in the fields of polymer science and engineering and she finds it especially gratifying when she reads comments from the students that they can apply what they’ve learned from the class to real world engineering applications.

When Ruilan is not working with students in the lab or classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family. She and her husband are the proud parents of a nine-month old daughter who keeps them very busy.