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“Polyhedral Geometries in the Living World” by Dr. Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Northwestern University

04/04/2013 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Dr. Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Northwestern University

Host: Dr. Venkat Ganesan

Seminar Abstract

Dr. Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Northwestern University

Dr. Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Northwestern University

Platonic and Archimedean solids have beguiled scientists, artists and mathematicians for millennia. In recent times polyhedral shapes have been identified at the microscopic level in crystalline shells such as fullerenes, viral capsids and protein-based bacterial organelles. The most frequently found polyhedron in homogeneous crystalline shells is the icosahedron. We demonstrate that other geometries arise spontaneously in shells formed by more than one component. Our work explains the existence of various regular and irregular polyhedral shells found in nature, and provides the principles for designing nanocontainers with specific shapes and symmetries for numerous applications in material and life sciences.


Monica Olvera de la Cruz obtained her B.A. in Physics from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico, in 1981, and her Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University, UK, in 1985. She was as a guest scientist (1985-86) in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD. She joined Northwestern University in 1986, where she is Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and of Chemical & Biological Engineering and the director of the Materials Research Center. From 1995-97 she was a Staff Scientist in the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, Saclay, France, where she also held visiting scientist positions in 1993 and in 2003. She has developed theoretical models to determine the thermodynamics, statistics and dynamics of macromolecules in complex environments including multicomponent solutions of heterogeneous synthetic and biological molecules, and molecular electrolytes.

Her major awards include: 2012 Elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow; 2010 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship (DoD); 2007 Cozzarelli Prize, National Academy of Science (NAS); 1990-95 Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation (NSF); 1990-92 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship; 1989-94 David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and served as Vice-Chair (2008-10) and Chair (2010-2012) of the NAS NRC Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee. She is a member of the NAS NRC Board of Physics and Astronomy (2010-15) and has served in many other committees including the NAS NRC Research at the Intersection of Life and Physical Sciences Committee (2007-09), the NSF Mathematical Physical Science Directorate Advisory Committee (2005-09; DMR Chair, 2007-09), the NSF MRSEC Executive Committee (Chair, 2008-09), and the DOE Basic Energy Sciences (2013-15) advisory committee. She has directed various educational programs and has taught in prestigious schools and workshops. She serves on the advisory boards of many national research centers and is a member of the editorial board of Macromolecules, J. Polymer Science Polymer B: Polymer Physics, Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science, and Annual Review of Materials Research.


3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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