B.S. Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 2010M.S. Polymer Science & Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012Ph.D. Polymer Science & Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2016Post-Doc Chemistry, Texas A&M University, 2016-2018

Rachel A. Letteri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.  After obtaining a B.S. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, she completed a Ph.D. in Polymer Science & Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the direction of Professors Todd Emrick and Ryan Hayward.  She then conducted postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Karen Wooley in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University from 2016-2018.  Her research interests include materials involving functional polymers, peptides, and interfacial assemblies with applications in medicine and engineering, among others.  Rachel also enjoys sharing science and engineering with others through education and outreach.

Lab overview

The Letteri group is engineering materials that feature hierarchical structure and dynamic mechanical properties, and enable productive interactions with living systems.  Intertwining the tunability and versatility of synthetic polymers with the sequence-dependent interactions and biological activity of peptides offers tremendous opportunities for the generation of materials well-suited to address central challenges in medicine and engineering.


  • Thomas E. Hutchinson Award (Trigon Engineering Society) for outreach to students, enthusiastic lectures, obvious love of teaching, and contributions to the Engineering School 2019

Research Interests

  • Polymer synthesis and characterization
  • Peptide binding and assembly
  • Biomaterials
  • Supramolecular networks

Selected Publications

  • Forming sticky droplets from slippery polymer zwitterions ABS Letteri, R. A.;* Santa Chalarca, C. F;* Bai, Y.; Hayward, R. C.; Emrick, T. Adv. Mater. 2017, 1702921 (*Equal contributors)
  • Amphiphilic cross-linked liquid crystalline fluoropolymer-poly(ethylene glycol) coatings for application in challenging conditions: Comparative study between different liquid crystalline comonomers and polymer architectures. ABS Zigmond, J. S.; Letteri, R. A.; Wooley, K. L. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2016, 8, 33386-33393
  • Dispersing zwitterions into comb polymers for nonviral transfection: Experiments and Molecular Simulation ABS Ghobadi, A. F.;* Letteri, R.;* Parelkar, S. S.; Zhao, Y.; Chan-Seng, D.; Emrick, T.; Jayaraman, A. Biomacromolecules 2016, 17, 546-557 (*Equal contributors)
  • Functional sulfobetaine polymers: Synthesis and salt-responsive stabilization of oil-in-water droplets ABS Chang, C. C.;* Letteri, R.;* Hayward, R. C.; Emrick, T. Macromolecules 2015, 48, 7843-7850 (*Equal contributors)
  • Polymer-peptide delivery platofrms: Effect of oligopeptide orientation on polymer-based DNA delivery ABS Parelkar, S. S.;* Letteri, R.;* Chan-Seng, D.;* Zolochevska, O.; Ellis, J.; Figueiredo, M.; Emrick, T Biomacromolecules 2014, 15, 1328-1336 (*Equal contributors)

Courses Taught

  • CHE 2215: Material & Energy Balances Fall 2018, 2019, 2020
  • CHE 6561: Chemistry for Engineering Functional Soft Materials Spring 2020
  • CHE 3347/6647: Biochemical Engineering Spring 2021