Editor's note: This story has been updated to show the proper name of the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professorship. 

Padma Rajagopalan, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professorship in Chemical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Robert E. Hord Jr. Professorship in Chemical Engineering was established by a gift from the late Robert E. Hord Jr. Hord, a 1950 graduate of the College of Engineering who was an enthusiastic supporter of Virginia Tech’s chemical and mechanical engineering programs. The professorship acknowledges and rewards faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering who have shown exceptional merit in research, teaching, and/or service.

Rajagopalan joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2007 and is a leader in the field of liver tissue engineering. She has pioneered unique engineered tissue mimics that dramatically improve our ability to maintain stable and functional cultures of liver cells outside the body. She has developed the first 3-D liver mimic that can recapitulate several critical aspects of liver architecture that are found within the body.

In 2010, Rajagopalan received the Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation to study the movement of cells under complex environments and in the presence of conflicting chemical and mechanical stimuli. These studies promise to provide new insights into tumor metastasis, wound healing, and developmental biology.

Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rajagopalan serves as a member of the Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section for the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health. She founded and co-directs the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Center for Systems Biology of Engineered Tissues. The center seeks to define a new synthesis between tissue engineering and systems biology. Her vision for the center is that seamlessly intertwined experimental and computational models will drive the next generation of advances in tissue engineering and in systems biology.

She serves as the program director for a new interdisciplinary graduate education program on computational tissue engineering. The program focuses on training a new community of graduate students at the confluence of tissue engineering, systems biology, and computer science.

Rajagopalan received her bachelor's degree and master's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and her Ph.D. from Brown University.