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Jennifer E. Padilla, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Jennifer E. Padilla joined Boise State University in March 2014 as an Assistant Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and member of the Nanoscale Materials and Device Research Group. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, followed by graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles where she received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and a master’s degree in Mathematics. Dr. Padilla began her work in the field of DNA nanotechnology serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Niles A. Pierce and at New York University in the laboratory of Nadrian C. Seeman.

Research Goals

Dr. Jennifer E. Padilla works at the intersection of theory and experiment to understand the origins of complexity and autonomy in molecular systems. She focuses her research on the creation of dynamic DNA nanostructures capable of encoding and executing algorithms for autonomous self-assembly, detection of and response to specific nucleic acid sequences, and communication across assemblies to coordinate their growth and function. The primary mechanism for dynamic behavior in DNA nanostructures is the exchange of DNA strands via toehold-mediated strand displacement. DNA base-pairing and strand displacement make DNA a highly programmable material of choice for the design and programming of dynamic nanostructures. To guide and inform experimental work, Dr. Padilla also studies theoretical models of DNA strand displacement and the Tile Assembly Model, a model that allows self-assembly to be interpreted as a computational process.


J.E. Padilla, M.J. Patitz, R. Pena, R.T. Schweller, N.C. Seeman, R. Sheline, S.M. Summers, X. Zhong, “Asynchronous signal passing for tile self-assembly: Fuel efficient computation and efficient assembly of shapes,” Unconventional Computation and Natural Computing, LNCS 7956, pp. 174–185, 2013.

J. Hendricks, J.E. Padilla, M.J. Patitz, T.A. Rogers, “Signal transmission across tile assemblies: 3D static tiles simulate active self-assembly by 2D signal-passing tiles,” 19th International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming (DNA 19), LNCS 8141, pp. 90-104, 2013.

J.E. Padilla, W. Liu, N.C. Seeman, “Hierarchical self assembly of patterns from the Robinson tilings: DNA tile design in an enhanced Tile Assembly Model,” Natural Computing, vol. 11, pp 323-338, 2012.

H.M.T. Choi, J.Y. Chang, L.A. Trinh, J.E. Padilla, S.E. Fraser, N.A. Pierce, “Programmable in situ amplification for multiplexed imaging of mRNA expression,” Nature Biotechnology, vol 28, pp. 1208-1212, 2010.

J.E. Padilla, T.O. Yeates, “A statistic for local intensity differences: robustness to anisotropy and pseudo-centering and utility for detecting twinning,” Acta Crystallographica, vol. D59, pp. 1124-1130, 2003.

J.E. Padilla and T. Yu, “Self-assembling symmetric protein materials,” Biopolymers, vol. 7: Polyamides and Complex Proteinaceous Materials I, A. Steinbüchel and S.R. Fahnestock (eds.), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, pp. 261-284, 2002.

T.O. Yeates and J.E. Padilla, “Designing supramolecular protein assemblies,” Current Opinion in Structural Biology, vol 12, pp. 464-470, 2002.

J.E. Padilla, C. Colovos, T.O. Yeates, “Nanohedra: using symmetry to design self-assembling protein cages, layers, crystals, and filaments,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, vol. 98, pp. 2217-2221, 2001.