image of Marina Ruths. Ruths is a Professor in the Chemistry Department at UMass Lowell.

Marina Ruths


College of Sciences
Olney Hall - 216a


Intermolecular and Surface Forces, Nanotribology

Research Interests

Interfacial and surface forces; adhesion; friction (nanotribology)

Forces and nanoscopic friction in confined systems containing adsorbed polymers, biopolymers, polyelectrolytes, liquid crystals, and self-assembled monolayers;

Effects of surface roughness and strength of adhesion on nanoscopic friction.

Direct measurements of forces and friction with the Surface Forces Apparatus (SFA) technique and with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).


  • Ph D: Chemistry, (1996), University of California, Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Time-Dependent Interactions in Polymer and Liquid Crystal Systems
  • : Filosofie licentiat: Physical Chemistry, (1992), Åbo Akademi University - Finland
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Ytaktiva ämnens association in lösning och på fasta ytor (Association of surface active compounds in solution and on solid surfaces)
  • MS: Physical Chemistry, (1990), Åbo Akademi University - Finland
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Sammansättningen av faserna i det jonogena mikroemulsionssystemet 0,5 m NaCl(aq)–natriumdodekylsulfat–cyklohexan–bensylalkohol (Composition of the phases in the ionic microemulsion system 0.5 m NaCl(aq)–sodium dodecylsulfate–cyclohexane–benzyl alcohol)


Professor Marina Ruths received her M.Sc. in Chemistry and “Filosofie licentiat” in Physical Chemistry at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • NSF CAREER Award (2007), Scholarship/Research - National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • US-Japan Young Researcher Exchange Program for Nanotechnology and Nanomanufacturing (2006)
  • Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (The Max Planck Society), fellowship (2000), Scholarship/Research - Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany.
  • Humboldt Research Fellowship (1998), Scholarship/Research - Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Fellowships for Ph.D. studies and research at UC Santa Barbara (1992), Scholarship/Research - Neste Oy Foundation, Finland
  • ASLA-Fulbright Study Grant (1991), Scholarship/Research - Finland-US Educational Exchange Commission

Selected Publications

  • Jin, R., Skedung, L., Cazeneuve, C., Chang, J.C., Rutland, M.W., Ruths, M., Luengo, G.S. (). Bioinspired self-assembled 3D patterned polymer textures as skin coating models: Tribology and tactile behavior. Biotribology.
  • Jin, R., Liao, I., Cazeneuve, C., Chang, J., Ruths, M., Luengo, G.S. (2019). Effects of imprinted 3D surface patterning on localized changes in the tribology of human stratum corneum. Langmuir, 35 15573-15584.
  • Xu, X., Mastropietro, D., Ruths, M., Tirrell, M., Yu, J. (2019). Ion-specific effects of divalent ions on the structure of polyelectrolyte brushes. Langmuir, 35 15564-15572 .
  • Yu, J., Jackson, N., Xu, X., Morgenstern, Y., Kaufman, Y., Ruths, M., de Pablo, J., Tirrell, M. (2018). Multivalent counterions diminish the lubricity of polyelectrolyte brushes. Science, 360 1434-1438.
  • Xu, X., Billing, M., Ruths, M., Klok, H., Yu, J. (2018). Structure and functionality of polyelectrolyte brushes, a surface force perspective. Chemistry–an Asian Journal, 13 3411-3436.
  • Yu, J., Jackson, N.E., Xu, X., Brettman, B.K., Ruths, M., de Pablo, J.J., Tirrell, M. (2017). Multivalent ions induce lateral structural inhomogeneities in polyelectrolyte brushes. Science Advances, 3 eaao1497.
  • Wang, P., Su, J., Shen, M., Ruths, M., Sun, H. (2017). Detection of Liquid Penetration into a Micropillar Surface Using Quartz Crystal Microbalance. Langmuir, 33 638-644.
  • Ruths, M., Lundgren, S.M., Persson, K. (2016). Friction of Fatty Acids in Nanoscale Contacts (pp. 333–359). CRC Press
  • Ruths, M., Drummond, C., Israelachvili, J.N. (2014). Characterization of Biomolecular Interactions with the Surface Forces Apparatus (37 pp. 457-480). CRC Press/Taylor and Francis
  • Israelachvili, J., Ruths, M. (2013). Brief History of Intermolecular and Intersurface Forces in Complex Fluid Systems. Langmuir, 29(31) 9605-9619.

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Making Waves (Women Academics Valued and Engaged in STEM): Disrupting Microaggressions to Propagate Institutional Transformation (2016), Grant - NSF
    Haynes, M.C. (Co-Principal), Bond, M.A. (Co-Principal), Ruths, M. (Co-Principal), Sobkowicz Kline, M.J. (Co-Principal), Chen, J. (Co-Principal), Maloney, J. (Principal)
  • Preparation and Tribological Characterization of Textured Surfaces (2015), - L'Oreal
    Ruths, M. (Principal)
  • Manufacturing of Hydrocarbon Fuels from Sunlight, Carbon Dioxide and Water with Metal Nanostructures: Mechanistic Investigations to Improve Performance (2012), Grant - National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Ruths, M. (Co-Principal)
  • Sensing Mechanism and Persistence of Semiconductor Gas Sensors on Nanostructured Surfaces (2010), Grant - National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Ruths, M. (Co-Principal)
  • CAREER: Adhesion and Friction in Multi-Asperity (2007), Grant - National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Ruths, M. (Principal)
  • Friction of Self-Assembled Polyaromatic Monolayers (Grant #45101-G5) (2006), Grant - The Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) (American Chemical Society, ACS)
    Ruths, M. (Principal)