Poornima Padmanabhan Headshot

Poornima Padmanabhan

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemical Engineering
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences

Office Location

Poornima Padmanabhan

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemical Engineering
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Program Faculty, School of Mathematical Sciences


B.Tech., Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (India); Ph.D., Cornell University


Dr. Poornima Padmanabhan received her bachelor’s degree (B. Tech.) in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras located in India. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2016 working in the area of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics with a focus on modeling polymer self-assembly for various applications. Following her Ph.D., she worked as a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University to study colloidal gels with a view to understanding the underlying microstructural evolution leading to the macroscopic collapse of gels under gravity. She has presented her past work at American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and American Physical Society (APS) annual meetings.

Dr. Padmanabhan is also actively involved in increasing the presence of women in science by promoting professional development of the graduate student and postdoctoral community at Cornell and engaging high school girls and their families through outreach events in upstate NY. She received an Alice H. Cook and Constance E. Cook Recognition Award for efforts in improving climate for women at Cornell University.

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
Fenton, Scott, et al. "Minimal conditions for solidification and thermal processing of colloidal gels." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 120. 25 (2023): e2215922120. Web.
Grant, Michael J., et al. "Coil−Helix Block Copolymers Can Exhibit Divergent Thermodynamics in the Disordered Phase." Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation. (2023): Pending. Web.
Buchanan, Natalie, Joules Provenzano, and Poornima Padmanabhan. "A Tunable, Particle-Based Model for the Diverse Conformations Exhibited by Chiral Homopolymers." Macromolecules 55. 15 (2022): 6321-6331. Print.
Buchanan, Natalie, et al. "Conformational and Topological Correlations in Non-frustated Triblock Copolymers with Homopolymers." Soft Matter. (2020): N/A. Web.
Padmanabhan, Poornima and Roseanna Zia. "Gravitational Collapse of Colloidal gels: Non-equilibrium Phase Separation Driven by Osmotic Pressure." Soft Matter 14. (2018): 3265-3287. Web.
Sun, Yangyang, et al. "Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Thermotropic Bolaamphiphiles with A Swallow-Tail Lateral Chain: Formation of Cubic Network Phases." Soft Matter 13. (2017): 8542-8555. Web.

Currently Teaching

1 Credits
This course examines how chemical engineering analysis can be applied to address some of society’s current and future challenges. Particular attention is focused on the size and scale of a system and its affect on the engineering constraints and the ultimate solution of problems. The course enables students to recognize that the processes and equipment that chemical engineers design to solve local problems affect the broader problems that society faces, such as the supply of energy and preservation of the environment. The course demonstrates the power of the system balance as an essential tool for engineering analysis, and provides students with some elementary training in its use.
4 Credits
The fundamentals of chemical kinetics are integrated with the concepts of mass and energy conservation, from both a macroscopic and microscopic perspective, to develop models that describe the performance of chemical reactors. Topics include mass action kinetics and absolute rate theory, series and parallel reaction systems, and the mathematical modeling of various reactor configurations. The conceptual framework and tools are developed to understand and design chemical reactor processes and to interpret experimental data obtained on a laboratory scale to design pilot scale and full scale manufacturing processes.
0 Credits
One semester of paid work experience in chemical engineering.
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a capstone project using research facilities available inside or outside of RIT.

In the News

  • May 8, 2023

    close up of shampoo, showing large and small purple, yellow and orange bubbles.

    Squishing the barriers of physics

    Four RIT faculty members are opening up soft matter physics, sometimes known as “squishy physics,” to a new generation of diverse scholars. Moumita Das, Poornima Padmanabhan, Shima Parsa, and Lishibanya Mohapatra are helping RIT make its mark in the field.

  • February 15, 2022

    two students hugging in front of school lockers.

    Rochester Prep High School students share their capstone experience

    One highlight of the RIT-Rochester Prep High School Partnership is the annual capstone showcase that spotlights student-professor collaborations. Their diverse projects in photojournalism, antibiotic resistance, 3D printing and fabrication, and chemical engineering gave the students experience on a college campus and the confidence of completing undergraduate-level material.

  • January 17, 2022

    environmental portrait of professor Poornima Padmanabhan.

    RIT professor Poornima Padmanabhan honored with NSF CAREER Award

    Scientists look to space for origins of the solar system; chemical engineers like Poornima Padmanabhan are searching for the origins of life based on minute systems of molecules. Padmanabhan recently received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for “Chirality and polymer thermodynamics: frustration and amplification.”