Paulette Spencer

Paulette Spencer
  • Director, Institute for Bioengineering Research
  • Ackers Distinguished Professor, ME
  • Ph.D., D.D.S.


Dr. Spencer maintains an active research program in biomaterials, where her group focuses on mechanistic evaluation of material/tissue interfacial failure and the application of this knowledge to the rational design and development of biomaterials. Working with her research team and supported by the National Institutes of Health, she is developing polymers that are capable of autonomous repair and peptide-polymer hybrids that repair mineralized tissue and impede bacterial attachment that could lead to infection and failure. Dr. Spencer is among the pioneers in the development of non-destructive techniques for in situ characterization of structure/property relationships at material/tissue interfaces. She has an interdisciplinary background that includes a D.D.S, an M.S. in materials engineering, and a Ph.D. in Oral Biology and Physics. This combination allows her to undertake approaches that are driven by clinical need and integrate engineering principles with clinical practice. Her research program is based on “practice-inspired advances in understanding tissue-material interfaces” to drive biomaterials discovery.

Dr. Spencer is the founding director of the Institute for Bioengineering Research (IBER). Efforts within the Institute for Bioengineering Research are focused on performing innovative research related to the integration of engineered materials into human physiology and to the development of novel technologies for early-stage diagnosis and management of disease. Engineers, scientists, clinicians and industrial partners work collaboratively to translate basic research to products that will benefit society.


Biomaterials, Structure/Property Characterization of Material/Tissue Interfaces

Selected Publications

Xie SX, Song L, Yuca E, Boone K, Sarikaya R, VanOosten SK, Misra A, Ye Q, Spencer P, Tamerler C. Antimicrobial peptide-polymer conjugates for dentistry. ACS Appl Polymer Materials. 2(3): 1134-1144, March 13, 2020 (This work is featured on the cover).

Song L, Sarikaya R, Ye Q, Misra A, Tamerler C, Spencer P. Multifunctional Monomer Acts as Co-initiator and Crosslinker to Provide Autonomous Strengthening with Enhanced Hydrolytic Stability in Dental Adhesives. Dent Mater 36:284-295, 2020.

Sarikaya R, Song L, Ye Q, Misra A, Tamerler C, Spencer P. Evolution of Network Structure and Mechanical Properties in Autonomous-Strengthening Dental Adhesive. Polymers 12, 2076, 2020.

Sarikaya R, Song L, Yuca E, Xie SX, Boone K, Misra A, Spencer P, Tamerler C. Bio-inspired Multifunctional Adhesive System for Next Generation Bio-addivitely Designed Dental Restorations. J Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 113:104135, 2021.

Show more:

Paulette Spencer, Qiang Ye, Nilan J. B. Kamathewatta, Sarah K. Woolfolk, Brenda S. Bohaty, Anil Misra, and Candan Tamerler.  Chemometrics-Assisted Raman Spectroscopy Characterization of Tunable Polymer-Peptide Hybrids for Dental Tissue Repair. Frontiers in Materials 8:681415, 2021.

Rizacan Sarikaya, Qiang Ye, Linyong Song, Candan Tamerler, Paulette Spencer and Anil Misra. Probing the mineralized tissue-adhesive interface for tensile nature and bond strength. J Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 120:104563, 2021.

Boone K, Wisdom C, Camarda K, Spencer P, Tamerler C.Combining Genetic Algorithm with Machine Learning Strategies for Designing Potent Antimicrobial Peptides. BMC Bioinformatics 22:239, 2021.

Esra Yuca, Sheng-Xue Xie, Linyong Song, Kyle Boone, Sarah K. Woolfolk, Nilan Kamathewatta, Philip Elrod, Qiang Ye, Paulette Spencer, and Candan Tamerler. Reconfigurable Dual Peptide Tethered Polymer System Offers a Synergistic Solution for Next Generation Dental Adhesives. International J of Molecular Sciences 22:6552, 2021.

Boone K, Camarda KV, Spencer P, Tamerler C. Antimicrobial Peptide Similarity and Classification through Rough Set Theory Using Physicochemical Boundaries. BMC Bioinformatics 19:469-479, 2018

Spencer P, Ye Q, Song L, Parthasarathy R, Boone K, Misra A, Tamerler C. Threats to Adhesive/Dentin Interfacial Integrity and Next Generation Bio-enabled Multifunctional Adhesives. J Biomed Mater Res Part B:107B:2673-2683, 2019

Song L, Ye Q, Ge X, Misra A, Tamerler C and Spencer P. Fabrication of Hybrid Crosslinked Network with Buffering Capabilities and Autonomous Strengthening Characteristics for Dental Adhesive. Acta Biomaterialia 67:111-121, 2018.

Awards & Honors

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)

Fellow, Biomaterials Science and Engineering-International Union of Societies for Biomaterials

Fellow, American College of Dentists,

Leading Light Award, University of Kansas (2012)

Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Brazil (2014-15)

Dolph C. Simon, Sr. Award in the Biomedical Sciences (2015)

Clemson Award for Basic Research: Society of Biomaterials (2019)

Grants & Other Funded Activity

R01DE025476-06A1 Multi-PI: Spencer and Tamerler 08/12/2020-07/31/2025

NIH/NIGMS/NIDCR, Peptide-Polymer Engineering Dentin/Adhesive Interfacial Bond Integrity


R01DE025476 Multi-PI: Spencer and Tamerler 08/08/07/2015-01/31/2021

NIH/NIGMS/NIDCR, Peptide-Polymer Engineering Dentin/Adhesive Interfacial Bond Integrity

University of Kansas  PI: Spencer 05/04/2019-12/31/2020

Engineering Novel Bioactive Peptide-Polymer Hybrids to Provide Self-Healing at the Material/Tissue Interface


NSFCBET-1429727 Nguyen (PI) 09/01/14-08/31/18

NSF  MRI: Acquisition of an Advanced X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy for Materials Research

Role: Co-PI