5640 South Ellis Avenue
Eckhardt Research Laboratory 108
Chicago, IL 60637
Organic compounds are a major contributor to the contamination of waterways. There is a strong need to develop new materials that are able to recognize and capture a wide variety of these molecules. However, many of these molecules, including phosphate, are also widely used in production of the global food supply. Whitney’s research aims to design, synthesize, and characterize self-assembling, amphiphilic peptide systems that bind and retain phosphate and can subsequently release and recover it in a controllable manner. In order to optimize the design of such materials, she is also incorporating the use of molecular simulations. This work enables her to further explore phosphate binding by peptide nanostructures and search for improved alternatives. By combining both experimental and computational techniques, Whitney’s holistic research is developing a new approach to a technological problem of global importance.
Whitney Fowler received her B.E. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Vanderbilt University in Spring 2015. After working for a year for a non-profit organization, she came to the University of Chicago to work toward her Ph.D. in the Institute for Molecular Engineering. She returned to academia wanting to do research directed toward real-world applications and problems, specifically that of the global clean water crisis. Under the co-advisement of Prof. Matthew Tirrell and Prof. Juan de Pablo., Whitney is currently working on designing materials to selectively isolate and recycle phosphate from aqueous solutions, utilizing both experimental and computational techniques.