Tirrell Group

Sarah Perry, PhD

  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Alumni 2014)
    Assistant Professor, UMass

Sarah L. Perry received bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from the University of Arizona, as well as a master's in chemical engineering, working on gas phase methods for chemically passivating silicon surfaces for semiconductor manufacturing. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working on microfluidic platforms for the crystallization and study of membrane protein crystallization with Professor Paul J. A. Kenis. She began working as a postdoc for Professor Matthew Tirrell in the Bioengineering Department at the University of California at Berkeley and moved with the lab to the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. Her initial research in the Tirrell Group focused on the use of self-assembling DNA-lipid films for use in transfection. Currently, she is working to develop design rules to understand the structure and self-assembly of biomimetic complex coacervate systems for use as artificial organelles or nanoreactors. She is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sarah's research utilizes self-assembly, molecular design, and microfluidic technologies to generate biologically relevant microenvironments for the study and application of biomacromolecules. Individually, microfluidics represents an enabling technology for the time-resolved analysis of enzyme structural dynamics, while control over molecular interactions in self-assembling polyelectrolyte systems can be used to examine the interplay between biomacromolecules and the intracellular environment. Together, these capabilities can be coupled to generate artificial organelle-like structures for use in applications ranging from biochemistry to bioenergetics, biocatalysis, and biomedicine. Furthermore, this work has tremendous pedagogical potential to inspire students to work at the intersection of chemistry, biology, and engineering.

Self-Assembly of α-Helical Polypeptides Driven by Complex Coacervation

D. Priftis, L. Leon, Z.Y. Song, S.L. Perry, K.O. Margossian, A. Tropnikova, J.J. Cheng and M. Tirrell. Self-Assembly of α-Helical Polypeptides Driven by Complex Coacervation. Angewandte Chemie Intl Edition. 2015. Vol. 54, Pg. 11128-11132.

Chirality-selected phase behaviour in ionic polypeptide complexes

Perry, Sarah L., et al. "Chirality-selected phase behaviour in ionic polypeptide complexes." Nature communications 6 (2015): 6052.

A molecular view of the role of chirality in charge-driven polypeptide complexation

Hoffmann, K. Q., et al. "A molecular view of the role of chirality in charge-driven polypeptide complexation." Soft Matter 11.8 (2015): 1525-1538.

Interfacial Tension of Polyelectrolyte Complex Coacervate Phases

J. Qin, D. Priftis, R. Farina, S. L. Perry, L. Leon, J. Whitmer, K. Hoffmann, M. Tirrell, and J. J. de Pablo . Interfacial Tension of Polyelectrolyte Complex Coacervate Phases. ACS Macro Letters. 2014. Vol. 3, Pg. 565-568.