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Debra Audus (Fed)

Research Interests

Polyelectrolyte complexation

Aqueous solutions of oppositely charged polymers, under certain conditions, can macrophase separate yielding a polymer rich phase known as a complex coacervate and a polymer poor phase often with vanishing polymer concentrations. We explore this phase separation in systems of copolymers containing charged blocks and neutral, hydrophilic blocks, as well as homopolymers using a combination of simulation and theory.

Polymer properties: databases and predictions

In collaboration with Prof. Ian Foster, Prof. Juan de Pablo and colleagues at University of Chicago, we are exploring methods for extracting polymer properties from the literature using machine learning. Resulting polymer properties, as well as associated tools can be found at

Hydrodynamic properties of dilute particle solutions

We are improving software called ZENO, which is a Monte Carlo based code that computes several quantities including the intrinsic viscosity and hydrodynamic radius. Additionally, the code is used to explore the role of shape on hydrodynamic properties for a class of cube-like particles. Computations are directly compared with experimental results and are found to be accurate within experimental uncertainty. More information including links to the source code and web app version can be found at

A selected list of publications is below. For a complete list see Google Scholar.

Recent invited presentations

  • “Enabling polymer informatics through databases,” Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies Annual Meeting Symposia, Santa Fe, NM, 2019 

  • “Towards Polymer Informatics: Databases, Infrastructure and Beyond,” NIST/Industry Polymer Surface/Interface Consortium Meeting, NIST, Gaithersburg, MD, 2019
  • “Modeling the complex with the simple: case studies in soft matter,” Graduate Simulation Seminar Series Keynote, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 2019
  • “Databases and Beyond: Enabling Polymer Informatics,” Machine Learning in Science and Engineering, Atlanta, GA, 2019
  • “Towards Polymer Informatics: Databases, Infrastructure and Beyond,” 31st International Symposium on Polymer Analysis and Characterization, Rockville, MD, 2018
  • “Enabling polymer informatics through database creation,” MGI-PI Meeting, College Park, MD, 2018
  • “Accelerating polymeric database creation,” ACS Spring Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2018
  • “Characterizing patchy particle self-assembly,” Penn Polymer Symposium, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2017
  • “Self-assembly of patchy particles: coupling of directional and isotropic interactions,” Joint Soft Matter Seminar, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany, 2016
  • “Accelerating materials discovery through the development of polymer databases,” American Physical Society March Meeting, Baltimore, MD, 2016
  • “Coupling of isotropic and directional interactions in patchy particles,” Complex Fluids Design Consortium Annual Meeting, Santa Barbara, CA, 2016

Research Opportunities

Contact me for further details. Current programs include:


  • World Materials Research Institutes Forum Young Materials Scientist Finalist, 2014
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2013-2015
  • American Physical Society Frank J. Padden Jr. Award Finalist, 2012
  • School for Scientific Thought Fellowship, UC Santa Barbara, 2010
  • Materials Research Laboratory Diversity Fellowship, UC Santa Barbara, 2010
  • Air Products Fellowship, 2010
  • CSP Technologies Fellowship, 2009


Created July 30, 2019, Updated June 15, 2021