Faculty Profile

Lisa Poulikakos

Faculty, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Nanophotonics, optical materials, nanomaterials, electromagnetism, biophotonics, biomaterials, diagnostics

Poulikakos’ research furthers the science and engineering of nanophotonic materials to controllably enhance, probe and influence naturally-occurring light-matter interactions on the nanoscale. Among the rich palette of societally-relevant applications enabled by nanoscale-light-design, her research interests include leveraging nanophotonic materials to exploit the interaction of biological matter with light. Fascinated by transdisciplinary challenges, the Poulikakos Lab explores how mechanical, chemical and thermal effects can transform the optical properties of biological systems. The resulting in-vivo and ex-vivo nanophotonic probes aim to elucidate the origin and propagation of a range of serious diseases, promising impact in low-cost medical diagnostics; rapid, on-chip biochemical drug testing or widely accessible, in-situ biomedical imaging.

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Lisa Poulikakos joined the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering faculty at UCSD in November 2020. She received her PhD in Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zürich, where she introduced an original theoretical and experimental technique to enable the rational design of chiral nanophotonic systems. Her postdoctoral research in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University focused on developing functional nanophotonic surfaces for all-optical, on-chip and label-free cancer tissue diagnostics. She is a recipient of the ETH Medal, awarded to outstanding doctoral theses, the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Swiss National Science Foundation Early Postdoc Mobility Fellowship. Among the leadership positions she has held, she served as Chair of the 2018 Gordon Research Seminar in Plasmonics and Nanophotonics and was the founder and first president of the student-outreach organization “LIMES” at ETH Zürich.

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