Prof. Melissa Gordon

Research area: My research focuses on developing and testing materials that are inspired by nature. By looking to nature, we can design materials offering desirable properties such as response to environmental stimuli, improved safety, and sustainability. 

For example, the healing of skin after a cut motivates the design of self-healing materials that respond constructively to force. To develop materials with these desirable attributes, our approach involves designing the polymer at the molecular level by incorporating structural building blocks inspired by or derived from nature. By modifying the chemical makeup of these materials, we can tune their responses and thereby engineer materials for diverse applications, such as in drug delivery, sustainable plastic packaging, and membranes.

My Lafayette journey: I’m very excited to have reached this career milestone. I was attracted to Lafayette because of the close interactions I could have with students. I was also drawn to the opportunity to closely mentor students on research projects, and help them get the skills and experiences to achieve their next steps after college. 

I think it is a powerful form of teaching that is unfortunately often overlooked. The individualized mentoring and close student-faculty relationships were what I appreciated the most as a Lafayette student, and now providing it to students as a faculty member has led to much career fulfillment for me.

What I will be teaching in the fall: This fall I am teaching an introductory materials science course (ES 231 Nature of Materials) and Transport Phenomena (CHE 311). I enjoy sharing my knowledge and excitement for polymers with students in ES 231. 

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