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The Poornima Research Group is interested in answering fundamental problems in soft materials by using computational and simulation tools. We love working with students at all levels.

We are a group of mostly chemical engineers who use statistical thermodynamics and simulations to work on a variety of fundamental problems. We aim to understand how through the design of novel building blocks such as polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, one can form and leverage hierarchical structures at several length scales through self-assembly. One important direction in the group is to understand how chirality, a fundamental characteristic in chemistry and biology, can be used in materials science. Another direction targets creative manipulation of polymer architecture and sequence to control patterns in structure similar to lithography. Using computational tools and theoretical methods, we can examine individual and aggregate behavior of the building blocks, often elusive in experimental characterization. 

Photo of Poornima Padmanabhan sitting in a relaxed position with a plant behind her.

I strive to Learn by Doing, and apply it in my teaching and research.

Poornima Padmanabhan


  • 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.”