Soft matter expert Datta receives award for innovative approach to studying porous materials

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Feb. 22, 2022

The International Society for Porous Media (InterPore) has recognized Sujit Datta with its 2022 award for porous media research.

InterPore president Michel Quintard said honoring a mid-career researcher of Datta's caliber enhances the organization's reputation and "inspires and motivates other scientists."

Datta, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, studies the dynamics of soft and living systems in complex environments, including human tissues and porous membranes such as those found in the gut, lungs and skin. His work involves what he calls squishy engineering, and touches on applications in energy, environmental remediation and human health.

Over the past few years Datta’s lab has revealed fundamental insights into how bacteria navigate tight spots, and by extension invented a tunable assay platform, known as PoreBiome, on which researchers can more deeply study bacterial behavior for biomedical applications. That work stems from Datta's underlying specialty: building 3D porous spaces out of transparent materials to closely mimic soil, soft tissue and other habitats that frustrate conventional imaging.

Last year Datta was named a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences. In 2020 he won the Unilever Award from the American Chemical Society, recognizing the impacts of his work on fluids, gels and biomaterials. He was also named an Innovative Early-Career Engineer from the National Academy of Engineering and listed as one the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' 35 Under 35. He was previously awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, among many other honors.

Datta joined Princeton in 2017 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. In addition to his primary appointment, he is an associated faculty member in the Princeton Bioengineering Initiative, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the High Meadows Environmental Institute and the Princeton Institute of Materials.