Dynamic Materials to Control Cellular Microenvironments and Mimic Biological Phenomena
How do materials relay information?
In nature, biological polymers provide many signals to the living matter around them. For example, the extracellular matrix interfaces with attached cells and can turn on specific genes with biochemical or mechanical cues. As an another example, proteins carry out different functions depending on their amino acid sequence and structure. One of the fascinating properties of these biological polymers is that these signals change over time, and can drive processes such as growth or disease. Our work aims to 1) fundamentally understand the temporal relationship between biopolymer structure, properties, and function, 2) develop mimetic materials to actively probe matrix interactions (with cells or inorganics) over time, and 3) apply these systems for bio-inspired approaches to problems in disease, molecular recognition, and sustainability.