"Material innovations inspired by Nature – utilizing concepts of mechanics, transport, assembly, and sustainability" by LaShanda Korley

Lashanda Korley

Materials that are found in Nature display a wide range of properties, including responsiveness to the environment, signal transmission, inherent sustainability, and the ability to adapt to support life. Learning from Nature or biomimicry can be a powerful tool in designing, developing and manufacturing the next generation of synthetic materials and systems. Using this bio-inspired framework, I will highlight several molecular design strategies utilizing cues from natural systems, ranging from gradient architectures to shape memory materials, and fibrous gels to fibrous composites.

Extending this molecular engineering approach to sustainable design, I also will discuss research efforts to design performance-advantaged, bio-based thermoplastics and thermosets with potential applications in membrane technology and functional coatings. I will also describe proof-of-concept pathways toward recycling and upcycling of complex polymeric systems and architectures.


Prof. LaShanda T. J. Korley is a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware (UD). Previously, she held the Climo Associate Professorship of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where she started her independent career in 2007.

Prof. Korley is the Director of an Energy Frontier Research Center – Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI) funded by the Department of Energy and also the Co-Director of a Materials Research Science and Center – UD Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials (UD CHARM). She is also the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE): Bio-inspired Materials and Systems and the co-director of the Center for Research in Soft matter & Polymers (CRiSP) at the University of Delaware.

She received a B.S. in both Chemistry & Engineering from Clark Atlanta University as well as a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999. Prof. Korley completed her doctoral studies at MIT in Chemical Engineering and the Program in Polymer Science and Technology in 2005, and she was the recipient of the Provost’s Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University in 2005. She was named a DuPont Young Professor in 2011, received a 3M Nontenured Faculty Grant in 2010, and was selected for the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering symposium. She is a Kavli Fellow as part of the Japanese/American Frontiers of Science Symposium.

Prof. Korley is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division. She also was awarded the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Research and the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Minority Affairs Committee Gerry Lessells Award.

Her research focuses on bio-inspired polymeric materials, film and fiber manufacturing, plastics recycling and upcycling strategies, stimuli-responsive composites, peptide-polymer hybrids, fiber-reinforced hydrogels, and renewable materials derived from biomass.

Seminar sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.