Leila Carvajal Erker ’96 grew up around chocolate, spending much of her childhood shadowing her father at his cocoa processing plant in Guayaquil, Ecuador before making the business her own. Now, she’s using a fusion of tradition and science to help the world’s chocolatiers build a better bar. Discover more alumni stories in the WPI Journal.
“It sounds sci-fi, but it’s a real solution.”
WPI researchers are using an enzyme found in red blood cells to create self-healing concrete that’s four times more durable than traditional concrete, extending the life of concrete-based structures and eliminating the need for expensive repairs or replacements. Read more, and sign up for the research newsletter for the latest research news.
I am William Smith Foundation Dean's Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Since joining WPI, I have been very active in research. Currently, my lab focuses on the study of new electrodes and materials for energy storage, including lithium ion batteries, supercapacitors, flow batteries, battery manufacturing, battery safety and recycle, and fundamental electrochemistry. This research can lead to energy storage with high energy density, high power density, long life, low cost, and high safety.
Work in my lab is focused on defining the cellular mechanisms that maintain genome stability in normal cells and understanding how these pathways are corrupted in cancer cells.
My research and teaching activities in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are in the area of the mechanics of materials and structures. At WPI, my favorite aspect of teaching is working one on one with graduate and undergraduate students on research projects. I like to excite students’ curiosity towards discoveries and creative scientific advancements. In our research group, we focus on the fundamental principles that control the behavior of materials in engineering and biology at multiple scales.
Since my first day of teaching, I believed that I loved being in the classroom. I enjoy my role as an instructor because it enables me to see directly the outcome of my effort. I like the fact that as someone in higher education, I have the opportunity to make a positive influence on a young person's life. I make every effort to not only deliver the material of the course, but to develop a mentoring relationship with each student to help them grow as individuals and strive for success.
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