Institute for Bioengineering Research
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Paulette Spencer, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Director of the Institute for Bioengineering Research
Primary office:
Learned Hall, 3111


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. Her research is represented in more than 190 publications, 50 invited presentations, over 8,000 citations, and H‐index 55. In 2017, she coedited a book titled, “Material‐Tissue Interfacial Phenomena”. Building on her education and experience, she leads a research program that is driven by clinical need, and integrates engineering principles with clinical practice. She has developed a unique research program based on “practice‐inspired advances in
understanding tissue‐material interfaces,” to drive biomaterials discovery. It has been recognized for decades that the failure of reconstructed tissues and joints using synthetic and/or tissue‐engineered materials starts at
the interface. In spite of this history, mechanistic evaluation of interfacial failure remains limited. My research team uses multi‐scale structure/property imaging and modeling to provide insight into mechanistic behavior
of reconstructed tissue/material interfaces. The experimental tools are state‐of‐the‐art, while the modeling and analytical techniques bridge scales from molecules to meters. Unique capabilities for understanding
biomaterials, tissues, and biomaterial/tissue interfaces are brought together in the IBER― knowledge of interfacial phenomena is used to rationally design and develop new biomaterials and medical devices.

Teaching Interests

  • Biomaterials
  • Research methods
  • Bioengineering

Research Interests

  • Biomaterials
  • Material/tissue interface
  • Dental materials


  • Society for Applied Spectroscopy (2002 - Present)
  • Society for Biomaterials (1997 - Present)
  • American Dental Association (1996 - Present)
  • Missouri Dental Association (1996 - Present)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (1992 - Present)
  • Omicron Kappa Upsilon-Rho Chapter (1992 - Present)
  • American Association of Dental Research, Kansas City Section (1988 - Present)
  • Sigma Xi (1987 - Present)
  • International Association of Dental Research (1982 - Present)

Selected Awards & Honors

2019       Clemson Award for Basic Research, Society for Biomaterials

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

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Life Fellow, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Fulbright Scholar Award (Brazil, 2015)

Recipient of the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award: Dolph Simons Award in Biomedical Sciences (in recognition of significant research accomplishments among the faculty at all Kansas Board of Regents institutions), 2015