CBE Postdoctoral Fellows

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering postdoctoral fellows at Penn contribute to a an innovative range of investigative efforts in a collaborative research context. New centers for molecular modeling, energy research, nanotechnology, and engineering cells and regeneration, as well as the close proximity of renowned medical school and associated laboratories, provide excellent opportunities for research that spans diverse disciplines. CBE postdoctoral fellows are top contenders for premier academic and research positions.

Postdoctoral Fellow Spotlight:

Sambeeta Das grew up in a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas in a very traditional Indian family. She never dreamed she would one day travel to all seven continents and she certainly never imagined she would be doing post-doctoral research with nanomachines.

Sambeeta, or "Sam", as she prefers to be called, was especially encouraged by her mother to pursue her dreams.  As a result, she attended undergraduate school in Kolkata, India, travelled to London for her Master's degree, and received her PhD in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University. She eventually travelled to the other four continents on business or vacation. Despite her inspired penchant for travel, Sam fully expected she would end up working in a traditional lab on medicinal chemistry. Instead, Sam is doing research in a field which concentrates on micro-robotics, biology, and surface chemistry. In particular, her research focuses on designing and functionalizing different micro-robotic structures which could be used for different applications in biology, such as pattern generation, drug delivery, sensing, and cell manipulation.

Sam's PhD advisor at Penn State convinced her to explore the emerging technology of self-propelled micromachines.  After receiving her PhD, she reached out to Dr. Kate Stebe at Penn Engineering, specifically because of Professor Stebe's groundbreaking work on colloidal materials and her reputation as a fantastic mentor. Dr. Stebe, in turn, introduced Sam to the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dr. Vijay Kumar, and is now jointly supervised by both. In Dean Kumar's lab, she is working on developing microrobots that can interface with engineered cells. This technology can help in simulating the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems. In Dr.  Stebe's lab, she is investigating the fundamental physics of these microrobots.

The field is relatively new and has so many possible applications. Sam says she hopes to accomplish at least some of what the science fiction writers envision:  nano and microbots, which repair body parts, fix tumors, and self-replicate. Her goal is to find more applications in society.
As for future plans, Sam is planning to pursue a career in academia. She intends to apply for faculty positions in the coming years and hopes to inspire the future generations of young students to become scientists.

Sambeeta received her B.S. in Physics from Presidency College in Kolkata, India, her M.S. in Chemical Research at the University of London, in the United Kingdom, and her PhD in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University. She plans to pursue a career in academia.