Dr. Beth Pruitt graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with an S.B. in mechanical engineering. She was supported by aNavy ROTC fellowship at MIT where she learned sailing, leadership, and perseverance. She subsequently received an M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Stanford University, then. served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, first at the engineering headquarters of the nuclear program then as an instructor teaching Systems Engineering (and offshore sailing in the summer) at the U.S. Naval Academy. She earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University where she specialized in MEMS and small-scale metrologies for electrical contacts and was supported by aHertz Foundation Fellowship. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) where she worked on polymer MEMS. Dr. Pruitt led the Microsystems Lab at Stanford for 15 years, with research focused on small-scale metrologies for interdisciplinary micromechanics problems in mechanobiology, biomechanics and sensing. She was a visiting professor in Viola Vogel's Lab for Applied Mechanobiology in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH, Zurich in 2012. Dr. Pruitt moved to UC Santa Barbara in 2018 to help launch a biological engineering program and department on campus. She served first as Associate Director, then became Director of the Center for Bioengineering in 2019. She has been recognized by the NSF CAREER Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, Denice Denton Leadership Award and is an elected Senior Member of IEEE, and a Fellow of the ASME and AIMBE.
The Pruitt Lab develops microtechnologies for cellular mechanobiology and mechanical measurements to study how mechanics mediates biological signaling. For example, we study signaling, and mechanisms and forces of cell adhesion in coordinating cell behavior and response to mechanical changes, as well as the development and response of stem cells and cardiac myocytes to mechanical loading. We design and fabricate most of our own tools and sensors and are interested in the reliable manufacture and operation of micromachined sensors and actuators in harsh environments, measuring nanoscale mechanical behavior, and the analysis, design, and control of integrated electro-mechanical systems. We leverage new tools and answer novel questions in our lab in the areas of physiology, biology, stem cells, neuroscience, and cardiology with an eye toward quantitative and fundamental biophysics.
Schroer, A., Pardon, G., Castillo, E., Blair, C., Pruitt, B., Engineering hiPSC cardiomyocyte in vitro model systems for functional and structural assessment. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 2019.
Moeller J,* Denisin AK*, Sim JY, Wilson RE, Ribeiro AJS, Pruitt BL. Controlling cell shape on hydrogels using lift-off protein patterning. PLoS One. 2018 Jan 3;13(1): e0189901.
Sadeghipour, E., Garcia, M.A., Nelson, W.J., and Pruitt, B.L., Shear-induced damped oscillations in an epithelium depend on actomyosin contraction and E-cadherin cell adhesion. eLife, 2018. 7: p. e39640.
A.J.S. Ribeiro, O. Schwab, M.A. Mandegar, Y.-S. Ang, B. R. Conklin, D. Srivastava, B.L. Pruitt, Multi-Imaging Method to Assay the Contractile Mechanical Output of Micropatterned Human iPSC-Derived Cardiomyocytes, Circulation Research, p. CIRCRESAHA.116.310363, Apr. 2017.
A.J.S. Ribeiro, Y.-S. Ang, J.-D. Fu, R.N. Rivas, T.M.A. Mohamed, G.C. Higgs, D. Srivastava, and B.L. Pruitt, "Contractility of single cardiomyocytes differentiated from pluripotent stem cells depends on physiological shape and substrate stiffness," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, No. 41, pp. 12705, October 13, 2015.
B.W. Benham-Pyle, B.L. Pruitt, W.J. Nelson, "Mechanical strain induces E-cadherin–dependent Yap1 and β-catenin activation to drive cell cycle entry", Science, Vol. 348 no. 6238 pp. 1024-1027, 2015.
J.Y. Sim, J. Moeller, K.C. Hart, D. Ramallo, V. Vogel, A.R. Dunn, W.J. Nelson, B.L. Pruitt, "Spatial Distribution of Cell-Cell and Cell-ECM Adhesions Regulates Force Balance while Maintaining E-cadherin Molecular Tension in Cell Pairs", Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 26, No. 13, pp. 2456, July 1, 2015.
B. W. Benham-Pyle, J. Y. Sim, K. C. Hart, B. L. Pruitt, and W. J. Nelson, "Increasing β-catenin/Wnt3A activity levels drive mechanical strain-induced cell cycle progression through mitosis," eLife, vol. 5, p. e19799, 2016/10/26 2016.