The MRSEC holds seminars presenting research at the frontier of Bioinspired Soft Materials. The seminars are targeted towards grad students and other researchers in the field, although everyone is invited to attend. As the topic is highly interdisciplinary, seminars are designed to be accessible to a wide range of backgrounds. 

The seminars, for the remainder of the semester, take place online in a virtual format via Zoom. A link will be posted for each seminar.

MRSEC Seminars Organizer:
John Berezney (Dogic/Fraden Lab Postdoc)

Thursday, March 26, 2020
No MRSEC Seminar

Thursday, April 2, 2020
MRSEC Seminar
Title: Bi-phase emulsion droplets as dynamic fluid optical systems
Mathias Kolle and Jan Totz, MIT 
Abstract: Micro-scale optical components play a critical role in many applications, in particular when these components are capable of dynamically responding to different stimuli with a controlled variation of their optical behavior. Here, we will discuss the potential of easily reconfigurable, micro-scale, bi-phase emulsion droplets as a material platform for dynamic, fluid optical components. Such droplets can act as liquid compound micro-lenses with tunable focal lengths. They can display stunning iridescent structural colors with a rich structure-dependent variation in angular and spectral distribution of reflected coloration. The droplet morphology can be controlled with optical stimuli, chemical perturbations in their environment, and they are also very responsive to minute thermal gradients. Finally, we provide evidence of the droplet’s utility as a fluidic optical element in potential application scenarios.
Zoom link:

Thursday, April 9, 2020
MRSEC Seminar
W. Benjamin Rogers, Brandeis University

Thursday, April 16, 2020
MRSEC Seminar
Title: From Cytoskeletal Assemblies to Living Machines
Peter Foster, MIT
Abstract: The cytoskeleton has the remarkable ability to self-organize into living machines which underlie diverse cellular processes. These nonequilibrium machines are driven by molecular motor proteins which shape cytoskeletal components into soft active materials. How the properties of these materials emerge from protein-level interactions and energetics is an open question. Here, I’ll present work on the dynamics, mechanics, and energetics of microtubule/motor protein networks. In cell extracts, we’ve found that microtubule networks undergo a spontaneous bulk contraction driven by the motor protein dynein, which can be quantitatively understood using an active fluid model coarse-grained from motor-scale interactions. Additionally, we’ve used picowatt calorimetry to measure the heat dissipated by an active cytoskeletal material composed of purified components and found that the efficiency for generating large-scale flows is remarkably low. Taken together, these results uncover design principles for building active materials and represent a step towards building a thermodynamic understanding of active matter.

Thursday, May 7, 2020
MRSEC Seminar
Alexandre Bisson, Brandeis University Biology

See past events.