Hammond, chair of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is renowned for developing materials for medical and energy applications.
Hammond pioneered layer-by-layer assembly, which allows polymer layers with different properties to be laid down by alternately exposing a surface to positively and negatively charged particles. She has used the technique to develop nanoparticles and thin films for targeted drug delivery. Other polymer films she developed dramatically improve the efficiency of methanol fuel cells. She is also working on batteries and solar cells that self-assemble with the help of genetically engineered viruses.
Hammond earned her BS and PhD from MIT and a master’s degree at Georgia Tech. After a postdoc at Harvard, she joined MIT’s faculty in 1995. She received the MIT Committed to Caring Award in 2017–’18, the Henry Hill Lecturer Award in 2002, and the Junior Bose Faculty Award in 2000.
Hammond has also chaired or cochaired two committees that contributed landmark reports on gender and race at MIT: the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity and the Academic and Organizational Relationships Working Group. Outside MIT, she has served on the US Secretary of Energy Scientific Advisory Board, among others, and received honors including the Margaret H. Rousseau Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by a Woman Chemical Engineer.
“When I look at the list of current and past Institute Professors, I am both extremely humbled and greatly inspired by their achievements and impact on MIT and the greater world,” Hammond says.
“At MIT, the distinction of Institute Professor designates the best of the best—and that is exactly how I would describe Paula Hammond and Arup Chakraborty,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif.
“Paula and Arup are great ambassadors for the Institute and our community. More than that, they are among MIT’s finest citizens.”