Dr. Pelagia-Irene (Perena) Gouma is currently the Edward Orton Jr., Chair in Ceramic Engineering at The Ohio State University. She is a professor for both the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Her previous appointment was with the Institute of Predictive Performance Methodologies (IPPM) and with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (tenured Full Professor) at the University of Texas-Arlington.

Before that, she was a professor at the State University of New York in Stony Brook for 16 years, and the Founder and Director of the Center for Nanomaterials and Sensor Development (CNSD).



  • B.Sc. degree in Applied Physics, Aristotelian University (Thessaloniki Greece)
  • M.Sc. (Eng) degree in Materials, University of Liverpool (UK)
  • M.Phil in Organizational Management, University of Liverpool
  • Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Birmingham (UK)


Awards, appointment and honors

  • Recipient of grant from NSF's Smart and Connected Health program to develop wearable skin sensors (September 2020)
  • Recipient of NSF EAGER grant (June 2020)
  • Funded by Ohio Water Resources Center for for remediating effluents from unconventional energy sources (March 2019)
  • Elected as Fellow of The American Ceramic Society (April 2019)
  • Recipient of 2019 MacQuigg Award for Outstanding Teaching (March 2019)
  • Dr. Gouma was the sole Chair of the 2011 ISOEN Conference
  • Member of the National Academy of Inventors
  • Fulbright Scholar to UNICAMP in Brazil
  • Recipient of the prestigious Richard M. Fulrath award from The American Ceramic Society


Publications and patents

Gouma has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, 18 book chapters and editorials, and a monograph. She also holds 18 patents (both US and international).


Dr. Gouma’s research activities involve the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for bio-/chemical sensors and biotechnology as well as the development of artificial olfaction systems (breath analyzers, electronic noses and tongues). Dr. Gouma has established novel and highly successful programs on nanomedicine, with emphasis on the development of non-invasive breath and skin-based diagnostic tools. Another area of her research involves the nanomanufacturing of single crystal ceramic fibers and of self-supported 3D architectures of non-woven preforms for composites. Dr. Gouma has also developed photocatalytic blankets that float on water and produce energy from photochemical water splitting.


She has been featured as an expert in nanomaterials, ceramics, sensors, and photocatalysts in the press numerous times, which includes sources like Science Nation, IOP, Science press, NPR, NBC news, Fox news, Fast Company, and Wired, among others. 

Breathalyzer Technology

Dr. Perena Gouma is the primary investigator of a team developing a breathalyzer device that samples breath for key biomarkers of the COVID-19 infection. Her novel technology provides an alternative to current tests that are expensive, can take a long time to get results and require specialized personnel to do the sampling and analyze the results. Her prototype uses a mixture of gases to simulate the COVID-19 molecule. The gas is analyzed by a machine that operates like a breathalyzer by processing gases in a breath sample. 15 seconds later, results are ready with 90% accuracy. 

Stories related to Dr. Gouma's breathalyzer technology


Isoprene sensor/breathalyzer for monitoring sleep disorders

Originally part of an array of sensors meant for flu detection, the use for Dr. Gouma's isoprene sensor extends beyond the virus. Perena's professional journey at Ohio State allows her to interact across disciplines with colleagues in the College of Medicine, particularly those specializing in pulmonary diseases and sleep medicine. "It became apparent to me that my isoprene sensor could be used on its own as an indicator of sleep disorders, particularly sleep apnea." 

"Breath isoprene is a biomarker signaling wakefulness. Hexagonal tungsten trioxide was used as the sensing element and it was able to detect and discriminate among various isoprene concentrations in the range of 300 ppb to 1ppm and above - the range of interest for the detection and monitoring of sleep disorders. The fast response, high sensitivity, and non-invasive, non-intrusive nature of the isoprene detector suggests that it can potentially be used as a diagnostic tool for sleep apnea." 

ACeRS Bulletin, May 2019


Water filtration

Dr. Gouma and her team at Ohio State have made significant advancements in remediating effluents (wastewater) from unconventional energy sources such as hydraulic fracturing. Fracking activity continues to support Ohio's economy and the need for finding economic ways to remediate and reuse produced water from fracking is emerging. Dr. Gouma’s work focuses on providing a sustainable, natural option for filtering toxic contaminants and potentially radionuclides from fracking wastewater. It also has a significant potential to find additional uses in water filtration and re-use.


Listing of research projects:
  • Breathalyzer for the detection and monitoring of COVID-19 infection
  • Visible light photocatalytic blankets for water splitting
  • Advanced ceramics processing through Flame and Ultrasonic spray pyrolysis, Self-propagating High Temperature Synthesis(SHS)
  • Developing high-throughput electrospinning spinnerets
  • Ferroelectric Tungsten Trioxide
  • Materials for Food, Water, Energy related research
  • Breathalyzers for non-invasive medical diagnostics
  • Wearable sensors

More about Dr. Perena Gouma's research can be found at Advanced Ceramics Research Laboratory.