Events Calendar

Texas Distinguished Faculty Lectureship(TDFL): "Designing Materials via Nature’s Blueprint"

Tuesday, November 29, 2022
9:30 am - 10:30 am

Location: NHB 1.720

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Natural materials, such as spider silk, wood, and seed pods, are excellent models for the design of polymeric systems that respond to complex and interacting environments, and that exhibit controlled and modular mechanical behavior under low energy conditions and with a limited set of chemical building blocks. These bio-inspired strategies provide a rich landscape for innovation, mentorship, and outreach via multidisciplinary, collaborative team science.

In this context, I will highlight several examples of how natural systems inspired the design of polymers, fibers, gels, and composite materials utilizing principles, such as hierarchy, interfaces, orientation, and dynamics. We will discuss the manufacture of polymer-peptide hybrids and fiber-reinforced hydrogels with nanoscale features and modularity reminiscent of spider silk. Inspired by the mechanism of seed dispersal in pinecones, we also will demonstrate bilayer actuation with controlled shape and response time with potential application in soft robotics. Gradient systems that utilize dynamic associations to modulate mechanics and architecture utilizing features of the marine worm will also be outlined. Motivated by the critical need to transition from a dependence on petroleum feedstocks, we also will explore the utilization of biomass building blocks with diverse functionality in the development of robust polymeric materials with exceptional mechanical function and thermal properties. Collectively, these vignettes offer a framework that provides insight of the interplay macromolecular design, molecular engineering, and robust manufacturing.


Prof. LaShanda T. J. Korley is a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware (UD). Previously, she held the Climo Associate Professorship of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where she started her independent career in 2007. Prof. Korley is the Director of an Energy Frontier Research Center – Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI) funded by the Department of Energy and also the Co-Director of a Materials Research Science and Center – UD Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials (UD CHARM). She is also the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE): Bio-inspired Materials and Systems and the co-director of the Center for Research in Soft matter & Polymers (CRiSP) at the University of Delaware.

She received a B.S. in both Chemistry & Engineering from Clark Atlanta University as well as a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999. Prof. Korley completed her doctoral studies at MIT in Chemical Engineering and the Program in Polymer Science and Technology in 2005, and she was the recipient of the Provost’s Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University in 2005. She was named a DuPont Young Professor in 2011, received a 3M Nontenured Faculty Grant in 2010, and was selected for the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering symposium. She is a Kavli Fellow as part of the Japanese/American Frontiers of Science Symposium. Prof. Korley is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division. She also was awarded the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Research and the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Minority Affairs Committee Gerry Lessells Award. Her research focuses on bio-inspired polymeric materials, film and fiber manufacturing, plastics recycling and upcycling strategies, stimuli-responsive composites, peptide-polymer hybrids, fiber-reinforced hydrogels, and renewable materials derived from biomass.

Speaker: Dr. LaShanda Korley, Univ. of Delaware