Kayla Sprenger
Assistant Professor

Office: JSCBB C225


PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Washington (2017)
MS in Chemical Engineering, (UW) (2014)
BS in Chemical Engineering, (UW) (2012)


  • 1st Place Oral Presentation Award, DYSS Series, UW ChemE (Aug. 2018)
  • UW College of Engineering Student Research Award (Apr. 2017)
  • Husky 100 Award, UW (Feb. 2017)
  • 2nd Place Oral Presentation Award, ChemE Graduate Student Symposium, UW (Nov. 2016)
  • AIChE CoMSEF Conference Presentation Award (Nov. 2016)
  • 2nd Place Oral Presentation Award, Biomaterials Graduate Student Award, AIChE (Nov. 2016)
  • ACS Chemical Computing Group Research Excellence Award (Nov. 2016)
  • International HPC Summer School Travel Scholarship (Mar. 2016)
  • UW ChemE Barbara Krieger-Brockett Travel Award (Nov. 2015)
  • AIChE Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC) Travel Award (Sept. 2015)
  • Graduate School’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation Travel Award (Sept. 2015)
  • PCCP Journal 1st  Place Poster Prize at the FOMMS Conference (Jul. 2015)
  • CoMSEF Conference Presentation Award at the FOMMS Conference (Jun. 2015)
  • NSF FOMMS Graduate Student Fellowship (Apr. 2015)
  • Suzanne Brainard Women in Science and Engineering Scholarship (2014 – 2015)
  • UW Society of Women Engineers Outstanding Female Graduate Award (Jan. 2015)
  • Best Paper [Oral] Presentation, Thermophysical Properties of Biological Systems Division, AIChE (Nov. 2014)
  • 1st Place Poster Competition Prize in Reaction Engineering, Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division, AIChE Annual meeting (Nov. 2013)
  • Graduate School’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation (GSFEI) Travel Award (Oct. 2013)


  • K. G. Sprenger*, Simone Conti*, Victor Ovchinnikov, Arup K. Chakraborty, and Martin Karplus, Sequential vaccination of rationally-designed HIV-1 immunogens elicits broadly- neutralizing VRC01-like antibodies in silico, in preparation.
  • K. G. Sprenger*, Joy Louveau*, Pranav Murugan, Arup Chakraborty, Optimizing Immunization Protocols to Elicit Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies, PNAS, (2020), https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/07/31/1919329117
  • Arup Chakraborty & K.G. Sprenger, Eliciting Potent Antibodies Against Highly Mutable Pathogens by Vaccination, Phys. Biol., under review.
  • Brittney Hellner, Sarah Alamdari, Harley Pyles, Shuai Zhang, Arushi Prakash, K. G. Sprenger, Jim J. De Yoreo, David Baker, Jim Pfaendtner, Francois Baneyx, Sequence-Structure-Binding Relationships Reveal Adhesion Behavior of the Car9 Solid-Binding Peptide: An Integrated Experimental and Simulation Study, JACS, 142, 2355-2363 (2019), DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b11617.
  • Coco M. Mao, Janani Sampath, K. G. Sprenger, Gary Drobny, Jim Pfaendtner, Molecular Driving Forces in Peptide Adsorption to Metal Oxide Surfaces, Langmuir, 35, 5911-5920 (2019), DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b01392.
  • Karl R. Oleson*, K. G. Sprenger*, Jim Pfaendtner, Daniel T. Schwartz, Inhibition of the Exoglucanase CEL7A by a Douglas-fir Condensed Tanning, JPCB, 37, 8665-8674 (2018), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b05850.
  • K. G. Sprenger*, Arushi Prakash*, Gary Drobny, Jim Pfaendtner, Investigating the Role of Phosphorylation in the Binding of Silaffin Peptide R5 to Silica with Molecular Dynamics Simulations, Langmuir, 34, 1199-1207 (2018), DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b02868.
  • Arushi Prakash*, K. G. Sprenger*, Jim Pfaendtner, Essential Slow Degrees of Freedom in Protein-Surface Simulations: A Metadynamics Investigation, BBRC, 498, 274-281 (2018), DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.07.066.
  • Samantha R. Summers, K. G. Sprenger, Michael F. Summers, Jim Pfaendtner, Jan Marchant, Joel L. Kaar, Mechanism of Competitive Inhibition and Destabilization of Acidothermus Cellulolyticus Endoglucanase 1 by Ionic Liquids, J. Phys. Chem. B, 121, 10793-10803 (2017), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b08435.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Joseph Plaks, Joel L. Kaar, Jim Pfaendtner, Elucidating Sequence and Solvent Specific Design Targets to Protect and Stabilize Enzymes for Biocatalysis in Ionic Liquids, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys, 19, 17426-17433 (2017), DOI: 10.1039/C7CP03013D.
  • Josh K. Smith*, K. G. Sprenger*, Rick Liao, Elizabeth Nance, Jim Pfaendtner, Determining Dominant Driving Forces Affecting Controlled Protein Release from Polymeric Nanoparticles, Biointerphases, 12, 02D412 (2017), DOI: 10.1116/1.4983154.
  • Kovas Palunas*, K. G. Sprenger*, Tobias Weidner, Jim Pfaendtner, Effect of an Ionic Liquid/Air Interface on the Structure and Dynamics of Amphiphilic Peptides, J. ML. 236, 404-413 (2017), DOI: 10.1016/j.molliq.2017.04.027.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Jim Pfaendtner, Strong Electrostatic Interactions Lead to Entropically Favorable Binding of Peptides on Surfaces, Langmuir, 32, 5690-5701 (2016), DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b01296.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Jim Pfaendtner, Using Molecular Simulation to Study Biocatalysis in Ionic Liquids, Methods in Enzymology. S.I.: Elsevier, 577(16), 420-437 (2016), DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2016.05.020.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Yi He, and Jim Pfaendtner. Probing How Defects in Self-assembled Monolayers Affect Peptide Adsorption with Molecular Simulation, Foundations  of Molecular Modeling and Simulation. S.l.: Springer, 21-35, (2016), DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10- 1128-3_2.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Alaksh Choudhury, Joel L. Kaar, Jim Pfaendtner, The Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenases ScLPMO10B and ScLPMO10C Are Stable in Ionic Liquids as Determined by Molecular Simulation, J. Phys. Chem. B. 120, 3863-3872 (2016), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b01688.
  • K. G. Sprenger, Vance Jaeger, Jim Pfaendtner, The General AMBER Force Field (GAFF) can Accurately Predict Thermodynamic and Transport Properties of Many Ionic Liquids, J. Phys. Chem. B. 119, 5882-5895 (2015), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b00689.

*Authors contributed equally

Research Interests

Infectious and neurological diseases such as HIV or Alzheimer’s Disease lack universal care today and cause millions of deaths annually. Harnessing the immune system in a precise and targeted manner, through specific vaccinations or targeted drug delivery, offers a promising route to alleviate these issues. However, major challenges to doing so include understanding (1) how the adaptive immune system responds to rapidly-evolving infectious disease pathogens (e.g., HIV, influenza, and malaria), (2) the role of immune cells and immune receptors in misregulating and perpetuating neurological diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s Disease and multiple sclerosis), and (3) how this information can be leveraged to inform the design of vaccines and therapeutics.

At the Rational Design of Immunotherapeutics (RDI) Lab, our goal is to develop clinically-translatable, immune-based therapies for neurological and infectious diseases. We build computational models of biological processes that span the atomistic to cellular scales, leveraging approaches from statistical learning and data science. Our work is highly interdisciplinary, focused at the crossroads of physics, engineering and immunology, and we work in close synergy with experimentalists and clinicians.