CBE Co-sponsored Seminar: Angela Belcher, Ph.D., James Mason Crafts Professor, Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 in ESB #1001 @ 4pm

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

ESB #1001


*Light refreshments will be provided*


Angela M. Belcher, Ph.D.
James Mason Crafts Professor

Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Host: Dr. Adele Doyle


Giving New Life to Materials for Energy, the Environment and Medicine



Organisms have been making exquisite inorganic materials for over 500 million years.

Although these materials have many desired physical properties such as strength,

regularity, and environmental benign processing, the types of materials that organisms

have evolved to work with are limited. However, there are many properties of living

systems that could be potentially harnessed by researchers to make advanced

technologies that are smarter, more adaptable, and that are synthesized to be compatible

with the environment. One approach to designing future technologies which have some

of the properties that living organisms use so well, is to evolve organisms to work with a

more diverse set of building blocks. The goal is to have a DNA sequence that codes for

the synthesis and assembly of any inorganic material or device. We have been successful

in using evolutionarily selected peptides to control physical properties of nanocrystals and

subsequently use molecular recognition and self-assembly to design biological hybrid

multidimensional materials. These materials could be designed to address many scientific

and technological problems in electronics, environmental remediation, medicine, and

energy applications. Currently we are using this technology to design new methods for

building batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, carbon sequestration and storage, enhanced oil

recovery, catalysis, and medical diagnostics and imaging. This talk will address conditions

under which organisms first evolved to make materials and scientific approaches to move

beyond naturally evolved materials to genetically imprint advanced technologies with

examples in lithium ion batteries, lithium-air batteries, dye-sensitized solar cells,


environmental clean-up and ovarian cancer imaging.