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Dr. Gawalt, the current Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, is dedicated to propelling the School forward to assist both students and faculty in achieving their bigger goals. As an accomplished surface chemist specializing in biomaterials and corrosion resistance, she leads a dynamic research group focused on enhancing the functionality of commercial materials. Their efforts aim to prolong material lifespan and mitigate complications. Notably, they employ self-assembled monolayers on metal implant materials, facilitating the delivery of small molecules, RNA, and drugs to injury sites, thereby reducing systemic complications.

Moreover, her team investigates thin organic films, such as surface-initiated polymers, to control corrosion on metal alloys in marine environments. Dr. Gawalt's innovative work has resulted in 11 patents and over 50 peer-reviewed publications, a testament to her commitment to impactful research.

Beyond her research endeavors, Dr. Gawalt is deeply invested in education, having mentored over 50 undergraduate students and guided the completion of 11 PhD and 5 MS students. Throughout her career, she has passionately taught various courses, from the Exploring Science Seminar to Atomic and Molecular Principles, instilling a love for learning in her students. Her dedication to teaching has earned her three prestigious teaching awards, reflecting her commitment to student success.

“At the School of Science and Engineering, excellence begins with faculty members who inspire and challenge every student. Our professors create an environment that encourages inquiry and rewards hard work. Students gain new insights by working with investigators on some of the most important and difficult scientific questions of our time. College is a journey full of horizon-expanding experiences that we invite you to enjoy at Duquesne.

While learning may start in the classroom, you will learn from your peers and your professors in a research setting while studying real-world scientific issues such as neurodegenerative diseases, tracking the trace amounts of toxic elements in soil, or understanding the neurological processing of pain. You will collaborate with experts in your field and share your scientific discoveries in-class and at national conferences.

Our achievements are made possible by the continued—and growing—involvement with alumni, friends, corporations, foundations, and government agencies Their support means the college will continue to move forward and set new standards in research, teaching and engagement with the world. Our students are deeply committed to personal and professional excellence and we welcome and celebrate the diverse life experiences that they bring to our community.”

-Ellen Gawalt, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science and Engineering


  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Princeton University
  • M.A., Chemistry, Princeton University
  • B.S., Chemistry, Duke University

Research Interests

  • Surface chemistry
  • Biomaterials; corrosion
  • Drug delivery
  • Biomedical implants


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Out of 48 publications; Dr. Gawalt has 7 patents and 5 pending patents
  1. Armen, J.M.; Schueller, N.R.; Velankar, K.Y.; Abraham, N.; Palchesko, R.N.; Fan, Y.; Meng, W.S.; Gawalt, E.S. “Chemically-Induced Cross-Linking of Peptidic Fibrils for Scaffolding Polymeric Particle and Macrophages” Macromolecular Bioscience, 2021, in press.
  2. Rupprecht, A.J.; *Allego, E.A.; Palchesko, R.N.; Gawalt, E.S. “Functionalization of Stainless Steel 316L with Corrosion Resistant Polymer Films” Thin Solid Films, 2021, 721: 138543.
  3. Meng, W.S.; Liu, W.; Wong-Noonan, S.; Pham, N.; Pradham, I.; Spigelmyer, A.; Funk, R.; Nedzesky, J.; Cohen, H.; Gawalt, E.S.; Fan, Y. “A Genetically Engineered Fc-binding Amphiphilic Polypeptide for Congregating Antibodies in vivo” Acta Biomaterialia, 2019, 88: 211-223.
  4. Pham, N.B.; Liu, W.; Schuller, N.R.; Gawalt, E.S.; Fan, Y.; Meng, W.S; “Toward reducing biomaterialantigenic potential: aminiaturized Fc-binding domain for local deposition of antibodies” Biomaterial Science 2019, 7(3): 760-772.
  5. Farrell, Z.J.; Reger, N.A.; Anderson, I; Gawalt, E.S.; Tabor, C; “A Route to Universally Tailorable Room-Temperature Liquid Metal Colloids via Phosphonic Acid Functionalization” Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2018, 122 (46), 26393-26400.
  6. Reger, N.A.; Meng, W.S.; Gawalt, E.S.; “Antimicrobial Activity of Nitric-Oxide Releasing Ti-6Al-4V Metal Oxide” Journal of Functional Biomaterials, 2017, 8, 20.
  7. Reger, N.A.; Meng, W.S.; Gawalt, E.S.; “Surface modification of PLGA nanoparticles to deliver nictric oxide to inhibit E. coli growth” Applied Surface Science, 2017, 401, 162-171.
  8. Gawalt, E.S.; “Metallic Biomaterials” in Handbook of Biomaterials Properties, Black, J.; Hastings, G.; Murphy, W.L., 2016.
  9. Palchesko, R.N.; Buckholtz, G.A.; Romeo, J.D.; Gawalt, E.S. “Co-immobilization of active antibiotics and cell adhesion peptides on calcium based biomaterials” Journal of Materials Science and Engineering C, 2014, 40, 398-406.
  10. Kruszewski, K.M.,Nistico, L., Longwell, M.J. Hynes, M.J. Maurer, J.A., Hall-Stoodley, L., Gawalt, E.S., “Reducing S. Aureus biofilm formation on stainless steel 316L using functionalized self-assembled monolayers” Mater. Sci. Eng C:Mater. For Bio. App, 2013.  33(4), 2059-2069.
  11. Stoodley, P.; Hall-Stoodley, L.; Costerton, B.; DeMeo, P.; Shirtliff, M.; Gawalt, E.; Kathju, S. “Biofilms, Biomaterials, and Device-Related Infections” in Biomaterials Science: An Introduction to Materials In Medicine, Ratner, B. et al, Eds.; 2012, 3rd ed.
  12. Gawalt, E.S.; Adams, B. “A Chemical Information Literacy Program for First-Year Students” Journal of Chemical Education, 2011, 88(4), 402-407.
  13. Raman, A.; Quinones, R.; *Barriger, L.; *Eastman, R.; Parsi, A.; Gawalt, E.S. “Understanding Organic Film Behavior on Alloy and Metal Oxides” Langmuir, 2010, 26(3), 1747-1754.