Group Members


Padma's Profiel Photo

Padma Gopalan

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor of Chemistry
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Google Scholar


Prof. Gopalan received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in Chemistry and postdoctoral work at Lucent Technologies and Bell Laboratories. She worked as a Research associate at the National Aerospace Laboratory in India and as a R and D scientist at Grinwell Norton. She joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003 and is currently a Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Her research is funded by NSF, DOE, ACS, DARPA, Army, and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). She has received several awards, including the NSF-CAREER award in 2005 and the Kellet Mid-Career award in 2022. She has also been a Co-leader in the NSF-MRSEC center on campus and was appointed as a visiting Professor through the World Research Hub at Tokyo Institute of Technology from 2018 to 2020.

Graduate Students

Junsu Yun Profile PhotoJunsu Yun

Research Assistant

Hi, I’m from South Korea and joined the group in 2018. I’m studying the functionalized biomaterials with polymer coatings for application in tissue engineering. I like to watch movies, play sports, and walk with my dog.

Julia Smith Profile PhotoJulia Smith

Research Assistant

I grew up right outside of Washington D.C. and moved to the Philadelphia area to attend Haverford College where I majored in Chemistry and ran on the Cross Country and Track and Field Team. I moved to Madison in 2019 as a Chemistry PhD student. I work on all things related to polymer brushes – their synthesis, characterization, properties, and morphology. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, biking, experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the Madison food scene, and reading novels.

Stephanie PhotoStephanie Oliveras Santos

Research Assistant

I am originally from Puerto Rico, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in 2020. I focus on studying the interactions between customized conjugated polymer dispersants and single-wall carbon nanotubes. I love scientific research, mentoring students, and sharing career-development resources. I also love traveling, watching movies, and eating plantains, merlot bellavitano cheese, and chocolate.

MiguelMiguel A. Betancourt Ponce

Research Assistant

I am originally from Puerto Rico, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras in 2021. I work on the synthesis and self-assembly evaluation of poly(dimethyl siloxane) based block copolymers. During my free time, I like to exercise, read, play basketball and videogames.

Sheng Wang

Research Assistant

Sheng received his master’s degrees in Materials Science & Engineering from Northwestern University. His current research focuses on reworkable thermosets and block copolymer lithography. In his free time, he enjoys playing badminton and table tennis.

Bharathan Govindarajan

Research Assistant

Bharathan received his Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering at Anna University, India, and later received his Master’s in Chemical Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. He worked with biofibers and polymers in Biofiber Tech Sweden AB before joining Northvolt AB, a Swedish battery company where he worked with polymer electrolytes. Inspired by polymers, he then moved to the USA to pursue his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at UW-Madison in Prof. Gopalan’s group, where he is currently working with synthesizing polymer brushes and blocks for different applications.

Leonardo Lizardi Rodriguez

Research Assistant

I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras and joined the Gopalan’s research group in Fall 2023. Currently, I am working on the synthesis of a new copolymer. In my free time I like to bike, watch movies, follow sports, play pool and video games.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Nikhil Pokharel


Nilabja Maity


I am from India, where I received my Ph.D. in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 2022. My research focuses on the synthesis of conjugated polymer, its interaction with single-wall carbon nanotubes and growth of biocrystal. During my free time, I like to cycle, watch movies and travel.