New Faculty Member, 2022–23
Assistant Professor, Chemical engineering
Layla Khalifehzadeh says her goal as a new assistant professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University is to “create an inclusive research environment that welcomes students with diverse socioeconomic and scientific backgrounds.” She is looking forward to cultivating the culture of diversity and inclusion in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the seven schools in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.
Khalifehzadeh is also excited about collaborating with her new colleagues.
“I was inspired to join ASU by the shared passion for research and innovation and have been very energized to see the culture of respect and collaboration,” she says.
“The Fulton Schools of Engineering are designed in a unique way to help cultivate and facilitate collaboration across disciplines,” she says. “These exceptional qualities make ASU an ideal environment for interdisciplinary research and increase the possibility of making high-impact discoveries.”
As a child, Khalifehzadeh had the opportunity to attend various enrichment programs that exposed her to principles of science, math and engineering. The awe she felt upon observing a specimen under a microscope for the first time remains with her to this day.
During her undergraduate years, she assisted a materials scientist with the development of materials for a variety of applications and honed this ability during her master’s program when developing a new coating technique for hip-replacement implants. That work jumpstarted her interest in biomaterials and led her to join Professor Buddy Ratner’s laboratory at the University of Washington.
Khalifehzadeh pursued a unique interdisciplinary path during her postdoctoral work at the laboratories of chemical engineering professor, Zhenan Bao, in collaboration with the late Professor Sanjiv S. Gambhir at Stanford University. She is a recipient of several pre- and postdoctoral awards from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, including the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant and the prestigious and highly competitive K99/R00.
“My research program combines advanced polymer synthesis, molecular engineering and computational methods to develop novel biomedical platforms for improved disease diagnosis and therapy,” says Khalifehzadeh. “It is mainly focused on designing and developing soft polymeric materials for wearable and implantable bioelectronic devices to be used for early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The ultimate goal is to bring this technology to the clinic.”
When she is not doing research, Khalifehzadeh likes to explore nature. She goes hiking and camping at every opportunity, including visits to most of the national parks along the west coast of the United States.
Written by Hayley Hilborn