Surya K. Mallapragada


Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, Carol Vohs Johnson Chair
Associate Vice President for Research, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research
Scientist, Ames Laboratory, Division of Materials Science and Engineering


5023 ATRB
2213 Pammel Dr.
Ames, IA 50011-1101


2021 Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
2018 Foreign Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, India
2018 AIChE Plenary Talk, Division of Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering, Pharmaceutical area (15b)
2017 Fellow, International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE)
2016 Fellow, National Academy of Inventors (NAI)
2016 WiSE Champion, Program for Women in Science and Engineering, Iowa State U.
2014 David R. Boylan Eminent Faculty Award for Research, Iowa State Univ.
2011 Young Alumni Achievement Award, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
2009 Distinguished Service Award, AIChE Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division
2008 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2007Big 12 “Rising Star” Award, Big 12 Center for Economic Development, Innovation and Commercialization
2007 ISU Foundation Mid-Career Excellence in Research Award
2006 Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
2003 Global Indus Technovator Award
2002 TR100 Award, MIT’s Technology Review Magazine
2001 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award
2001 ISU Foundation Early Excellence in Research Award
2000 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award


  • Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, 1996
  • B.Tech. Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, 1993

Interest Areas

Research Interests

Our research program is focused on designing polymeric biomaterials and bioinspired materials. Our current focus areas are:

  • Smart Polymers for Delivery of Genetic Material: We have designed and synthesized novel smart bioinspired multi-block copolymers that exhibit pH and temperature sensitivity. These polymers are cationic and undergo thermoreversible gelation at body temperatures These cationic polymers exhibit complexation with nucleic acids and serve as excellent injectable sustained delivery vectors of combiantions of miRNA or siRNA with chemotherapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer therapies. These copolymers also exhibit selective transfection in cancer cells.
  • Polymers for Vaccine Delivery: This project focuses on developing sustained vaccine delivery devices for single-dose sub-unit vaccines. We have designed virus-mimicking block copolymer-based nanovaccines for influenza that act as effective adjuvants  to stimulate the immune system and confer protection.
  • Bioinspired Nanocomposites: This multi-investigator project focuses on the synthesis as well as the hierarchical self-assembly of nanoparticles into 2D and 3D structures using a combination of stimuli-responsive synthetic block copolymers and biomolecules.
  • Combating Neurodegeneration: Our approach involves utilizing a combination of physical, chemical, biological and electrical cues on polymer substrates to facilitate peripheral nerve regeneration, and control adult stem cell differentiation to combat neurodegeneration. Our recent work has showed that physical cues in the form of micropatterned substrates, in synergy with other cues such as electrical, can control differentiation of adult stem cells. We are also developing strategies to deliver therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier to combat neurodegeneration.


Latest News:



Selected Recent Publications

  • Nayak, B., Zhang, H., Bu, W., Ocko, B., Travesset, A., Vaknin, D., Mallapragada, S.K. and Wang, W., “Ionic-Like Superlattices by Charged Nanoparticles: A Step Towards Photonics Applications”, ACS Appl. Nano Mat., 7, 3220-28 (2024).
  • Nayak, B., Kim, H.J., Nayak, S., Wang, W., Bu, W., Mallapragada, S.K., and Vaknin, D., “Assembling PNIPAM-Capped Gold Nanoparticles in Aqueous Solutions”, ACS Macro Lett.,  12, 1659-64 (2023). 
  • Nayak, B., Kim, H.J., Travesset, A., Vaknin, D., Mallapragada, S.K., and Wang, W., “Tuning Self-Assembly of Gold Nanoparticles Grafted with Charged Polymers by Varying Temperature and Electrolytes”, J. Phys. Chem. C., 127, 51, 24651-57 (2023).
  • Ananya, A., Holden, K.G., Gu, Z., Nettleton, D., Mallapragada, S.K., Wannemuehler, M.J., Kohut, M.L., and Narasimhan, B. “Just Right” Combinations of Adjuvants with Nanoscale Carriers Activate Aged Dendritic Cells without Overt Inflammation”, Immunity and Ageing20, 10 (2023). 10.1186/s12979-023-00332-0.
  • Siddoway, A., White, B.M., Narasimhan, B., and Mallapragada, S.K., “Synthesis and Optimization of Next Generation Low Molecular Weight Pentablock Copolymer Adjuvants”, Vaccines, 11 (10), 1572 (2023).
  • Nayak, B.P., Zhang, H., Bu, W., Ocko, B.M., Travesset, A., Vaknin, D., Mallapragada, S.K., and Wang, W. “Two-dimensional assembly of gold nanoparticles grafted with charged-end-group polymers”, J. Coll. Interfac. Sci., 650, 1941-48 (2023).
  • Schlichtmann, B. W., Palanisamy, B.N., Malovic, E., Nethi, S.K., Padhi, P., Hepker, M., Wurtz, J., John, M., Ban, B., Anantharam, V., Kanthasamy, A.G., Narasimhan, B. and Mallapragada, S.K., “Aggregation-Inhibiting scFV-Based Therapies Protect Mice Against AAV1/2-Induced A53T-alpha-Synuclein Overexpression”, Biomolecules, 13(8), 1203-22 (2023).
  • Ross, K.A., Tingle, A., Senapati, S., Holden, K.G., Wannemuehler M.J., Mallapragada, S.K., Narasimhan, B., and Kohut, M. L., “Novel Nanoadjuvants Balance Immune Activation with Modest Inflammation for the Design of Older Adult vaccines”, Immunity and Ageing, 20 (1), 1-14 (2023).
  • Kim, H.J., Wang, W., Bu, W., Mallapragada, S. K. and Vaknin, D. “Lamellar and Hexagonal Assemblies of PEG-Grafted Silver Nanoparticles: Implications for Plasmonics and Photonics”, ACS Appl. Nanomaterials, 5, 17556-64 (2022).
  • Senapati, S. Darling, R., Ross, K.A., Wannemuehler, M.J., Narasimhan, B. and Mallapragada, S.K., “Self-assembling Synthetic Nanoadjuvant Scaffolds Crosslink B Cell Receptors and Represent a New Platform Technology for Therapeutic Antibody Production”, Sci. Adv., 7, eabj1691 (2021).
  • Schlichtmann, B.W., Kondru, N., Hepker, M., Kanthasamy, A., Anantharam, V., Manohar, J., Ban, B., Mallapragada, S.K., and Narasimhan, N. “Enzyme Immunoassay-based Platform for Accurate Detection of Serum Pathological Alpha Synuclein in Parkinson’s Disease Patients”, ACS Chem. Neurosci., 11, 24, 4179-4190 (2020).
  • Kim, H. J., Wang, W., Travesset, A., Mallapragada, S, and Vaknin, D., “Temperature-Induced Tunable Assembly of Columnar Phases of Nanorods”, ACS Nano, 14 (5), 6007-6012 (2020).
  • Uz, M., Lentner, M., Jackson, K., Donta, M., Jung, J., Hondred, J., Mach, E., Claussen, J., and Mallapragada, S.K., “Fabrication of 2D and 3D High-Resolution Binder-Free Graphene Circuits Using a Microfluidic Approach for Sensor Applications”, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfac. 12, 13529-13539 (2020).
  • Senapati, S., Darling, R.J, Loh, D., Schneider, I.C., Wannemuehler, M.J., Narasimhan, B. and Mallapragada, S.K., “Pentablock Copolymer Micelle Nanoadjuvants Enhance Cytosolic Delivery of Antigen and Improve Vaccine Efficacy While Inducing Low Inflammation”, ACS Biomat. Sci. Eng., 5, 1332-1342 (2019).
  • Uz, M., Kalaga, M., Pothuraju, R., Ju, J., Junker, W., Batra, S., Mallapragada, S.K., and Rachagani, S., “Dual Delivery Nanoscale Device for miR-345 and Gemcitabine Co-Delivery to Treat Pancreatic Cancer”, Controlled Rel., 294, 237-246 (2019). PMID:30576747.
  • Das, S., Uz, M., Ding, S., Lentner, M., Hondred, J., Cargill, A., Sakaguchi, D.S., Mallapragada, S., and Claussen, J., “Electrical Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells into Schwann Cell-Like Phenotypes using Inkjet Printed Graphene Circuits”, Adv. Healthcare Mater., 6(7), 1601087 (2017). Journal cover image.
  • Uz, M., Sharma, A., Adhikari, P., Sakaguchi, D., and Mallapragada, S.K., “Development of Multifunctional Films for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Conduits, Acta Biomat. 56, 141-152 (2017).
  • Zhang, H., Wang, W., Mallapragada, S.K., Travesset, A., and Vaknin, D., “Macroscopic and Tunable Nanoparticle Superlattices”, Nanoscale, 9, 164-171 (2017).
  • Ross, K., Adams, J.,Loyd, H., Ahmed, S., Sambol, A., Broderick, S., Rajan, K., Kohut, M., Bronich, T., Carpenter, S., Wannemuehler, M., Narasimhan, B., and Mallapragada, S.K., “Combination Nanovaccine Demonstrates Synergistic Enhancement in Efficacy Against Influenza”, ACS Biomaterials Sci. Eng., 2, 368-374 (2016).

Link to Digital Repository

Primary Strategic Research Area

Engineered Medicine