Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, College of Human Ecology, Professor, Fiber Science and Apparel Design
1300B MVR Hall
Ithaca, New York
Fiber Science & Apparel Design


Margaret Frey is Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Human Ecology, and a Professor in the department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design at Cornell University. She is a Faculty Fellow for Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, for the Cornell Institute for Fashion and Fiber Innovation, and for Balch Residence Hall at Cornell University.

Professor Frey earned a BS in Chemical Engineering and an MS in Fiber Science from Cornell University. She earned her PhD in Fiber & Polymer Science from NC State University and currently serves on the scientific advisory board for the Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science program in The College of Textiles at NCState.

My research in the area of micro and nanofibers has focused on potential uses for high specific surface area materials with tailored surface chemistry. In applications ranging from air and water filtration to lab-on-chip micro chemical analysis systems, I have demonstrated that functional surfaces for capture and isolation of specific compounds can be effectively created using nanofibers. Nanofibers have the unique advantages of high surface to volume ratios, easy handling and compatibility with a wide range of substrates including textiles, plastics, papers and metals. I have made significant contributions in developing nanofibers as functional surfaces and structures for microfluidic systems. Nanofibers invented in my laboratory can perform important functions including sample purification, analyte concentration and reagent mixing in microfluidic channels. These nanofibers perform better than the generally used structures produced via expensive and slow gold lithography processes which must be performed in a clean room.
Compared to conventional fibers in conventional textile applications, nanofibers have inherent draw backs, including slow production rate, high cost, and poor abrasion resistance. However, in comparison to other high surface/low volume materials typically produced by lithographic methods, nanofibers have huge advantages. These advantages include simplicity of production without requiring a clean room, great material flexibility to create a wide range of surface chemistries and material patterns, and comparatively low cost. In collaboration with colleagues from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Engineering, I have developed unique fiber solutions for agricultural chemical delivery, microfluidic diagnostic devices and lateral flow assay systems. Based on the needs of specific systems,we have been able to develop a broad array of nanofiber functionalities, including hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces, positively and negatively charged surfaces, chemically active surfaces, and conductive and piezo electric fibers. All of these functionalities have beendemonstrated in model devices.
In my research, micro and nanofibers are produced primarily by electrospinning with a focus on using the process variables to drive final morphology of individual fibers and nonwoven membranes. The strong elongational flow field, electrical gradient and thermodynamics of solvent evaporation and polymer phase separation all contribute to production of fibers with fine diameters, high concentration of active components at the fiber surface and membrane structures ranging from random to well aligned. In a one step process utilizing phase separation, functional materials including small molecules, non-fiber forming polymers and proteins are added to nanofibers. By co-dissolution or suspension of the active material with a fiber forming polymer, nanofibers combining the desired surface chemistry with good mechanical properties and uniform morphology are produced rapidly and reproducibly . Additionally, post spinning methods, including layer-by-layer deposition, covalent bonding and polymerization of a second material via gamma grafting or vapor phase deposition, have been utilized to add additional active properties. Nanofiber membranes have been further incorporated into larger structures by directly spinning into microfluidic channels or cutting shapes from larger membranes for use in microfluidic channels, lateral flow assay devices, filtration systems or agricultural trials.



58. Xiao, M., Chery, J., Frey, M., (in press) Functionalization of Electrospun Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) Nanofiber Membranes for Selective Chemical Capture. ACS Applied Nano Materials.


57. Xiao, M., Gonzalez, E., Monterroza, A. M., & Frey, M. (2017). Fabrication of thermo-responsive cotton fabrics using poly(vinylcaprolactam-co-hydroxyethyl acrylamide) copolymer. Carbohydrate Polymers, 174, 626-632. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2017.06.092


56. Xiao, M., Chery, J., Keresztes, I., Zax, D. B., & Frey, M. W. (2017). Direct characterization of cotton fabrics treated with di-epoxide by nuclear magnetic resonance. Carbohydrate Polymers, 174, 377-384. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2017.06.077


55. Gonzalez, E., & Frey, M. W. (2017). Synthesis, characterization and electrospinning of poly(vinyl caprolactam-co-hydroxymethyl acrylamide) to create stimuli-responsive nanofibers. Polymer, 108, 154-162. doi: 10.1016/j.polymer.2016.11.053


54. Shepherd, L. M., Frey, M. W., & Joo, Y. L. (2017). Immersion Electrospinning as a New Method to Direct Fiber Deposition. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, 302(10). doi: 10.1002/mame.201700148.


53. Guzman J. J. L., Pehlivanar Kara M. O., Frey M. W. and Angenent L. T. (2017). Performance of electro-spun carbon nanofiber electrodes with conductive poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) coatings in bioelectrochemical systems. Journal of Power Sciences, 356, 331-337. doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.03.133.


52. Reyes, C. G. and M. W. Frey (2017). "Morphological traits essential to electrospun and grafted nylon-6 nanofiber membranes for capturing submicron simulated exhaled breath aerosols." Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 134(17). doi: 10.1002/app.44759.

51. Larissa M. Shepherd, Edurne González, Esther X. Chen, and Margaret W. Frey, Increasing Stability of Biotin Functionalized Electrospun Fibers for Biosensor Applications, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9(2), 1968-1974. doi: 10.1021/acsami.6b14348.

50. Matlock-Colangelo, Lauren, Colangelo, Nicholas W, Fenzl, Christoph, Frey, Margaret W, & Baeumner, Antje J. (2016). Passive Mixing Capabilities of Micro-and Nanofibres When Used in Microfluidic Systems. Sensors, 16(8), 1238.

49. Trejo, Nidia K, Reyes, Catherine G, Sanchez, Vanessa, Zhang, Dorothy, & Frey, Margaret W. (2016). Developing composite nanofibre fabrics using electrospinning, ultrasonic sewing, and laser cutting technologies. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 9(3), 192-200.

48. Xiang, C., Frey, M.W., ‘Increasing Mechanical Properties of 2-D Structured Electrospun Nylon 6 Non-woven Fiber Mats’ Materials 2016, 9, x; doi:10.3390/

47. Matlock-Colangelo, Lauren, Coon, Barbara, Pitner, Christine L, Frey, Margaret W, & Baeumner, Antje J. (2016). Functionalized electrospun poly (vinyl alcohol) nanofibers for on-chip concentration of E. coli cells. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 408(5), 1327-1334.

46. González, E., Shepherd, L.M., Saunders L., Frey, M.W., ‘Surface Functional Poly(lactic Acid) Electrospun Nanofibers for Biosensor Applications’, Materials 2016, 9, x; doi:10.3390/

45. Trejo, N.K., Frey, M.W. ‘A comparative study on electrosprayed, layer?by?layer, and chemically grafted nanomembranes loaded with iron oxide nanoparticles’ Journal of Applied Polymer Science 2015, 132 (41) 42657.

44. Buttaro, L., Drufva, E., Frey, M.W., ‘Phase Separation to Create Hydrophilic yet Non-Water Soluble PLA/PLA-b-PEG Fibers via Electrospinning’, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 2014, 131(19) 41030.

43. Hendrick, E., Frey, M.W., ‘Increasing Surface Hydrophilicity in Poly(Lactic Acid) Electrospun Fibers by Addition of Pla-b-Peg Co-Polymers’, Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics,2014, 9(2),

42. Xiang, C., Frey, M.W., ‘Hydrolytic Degradation of Nanocomposite Fibers Electrospun from Poly(Lactic Acid)/Cellulose Nanocrystals’ in Cellulose Based Composites: New Green Nanomaterials, Hinestroza, J. and Netravali, A. eds. 2014

41. Mukai, M., Woods, L. W., Stump, S., Ebel, J.G., Levitt, A.S., Frey, M.W., Smith, J., Uzal, F.A., Poppenga, R.H. Puschner, B., Detection of diisocyanates in nesting material associated with mortality in pigeon chicks, J. Vet Diagn Invest, 2014, DOI: 10.1177/1040638713520543.

40. Reinholt, S. J., Sonnenfeldt, A., Naik, A., Frey, M.W., Baeumner, A.J., Developing new materials for paper-based diagnostics using electrospun nanofibers, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s00216-013-7372-5.

39. Pehlivaner Kara, M.O., Frey, M.W., The effects of solvents on the morphology and conductivity of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) nanofibers, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 2014, 131(11) 40305.

38. Cho, D.; Naydich, A., Frey, M.W., Joo, Y.L., Further improvement of air filtration efficiency of cellulose filters coated with nanofibers via inclusion of electrostatically active nanoparticles, Polymer, 2013 54:2364-2372.

37. Xiang, C., Taylor, A.G., Hinestroza, J.P., Frey, M.W., Controlled release of nonionic compounds from poly(lactic acid)/cellulose nanocrystal nanocomposite fibers. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 2013: 127.(1) p. 79-86.

36. Schrote, K. and M.W. Frey, Effect of irradiation on poly (3, 4-ethylenedioxythiophene): poly (styrenesulfonate) nanofiber conductivity. Polymer, 2013. 54: 737-742.

35. Cho, Y.; Cho, D.; Park, J. H.; Frey, M.; Ober, C.; Joo, Y., Preparation and Characterization of Amphiphilic Triblock Terpolymer-Based Nanofibers as Antifouling Biomaterials, Biomacromolecules, 2012, 13(5): p. 1606-1614.

34. Matlock-Colangelo, L.; Cho, D.; Pitner, C. L.; Frey, M. W.; Baeumner, A. J., Functionalized electrospun nanofibers as bioseparators in microfluidic systems. Lab on a Chip 2012, 12(9): p. 1696-1701.

33. Cho, D.; Lee, S.; Frey, M. W., Characterizing zeta potential of functional nanofibers in a microfluidic device. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2012, 372 (1), 252-260.


Fiber Society: Co-Chair of 75th annual meeting of the Fiber Society  Fall 2016

On a regular rotation, I have taught FSAD 1350/1360 Fibers, Fabrics and Finishes with laboratory,FSAD 2370 Structural Fabric Design and FSAD 6660 Fiber Formation Theory and Practice. In each class, I have continually developed my teaching methods and strategies to keep up with new developments in the industry and to help students connect the course material to the larger field of textiles and apparel.

  • FSAD 1350 - Fabrics, Fibers and Finishes
  • FSAD 1360 - Fiber Laboratory
  • FSAD 2370 - Structural Fabric Design
  • FSAD 6660 - Fiber Formation Theory and Practice
  • IGERT Module:  Sustainable Industry Practices
  • IGERT Module:  Nanomaterials for Biosensors

Cornell University Chemical Engineering B.S. 1985
Cornell University Fiber Science M.S. 1989
North Carolina State University Fiber and Polymer Science Ph.D.1995

Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs

Faculty Fellow: Cornell Institute for Fashion and Fiber Innovation

Faculty Fellow: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) member for the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science (TECS) at NC State University