MechE Seminar Series

February 02, 2024

12:30 p.m. ET

Scaife Hall 105

Nanoengineering with nucleic acids to build cell-interfaces, delivery devices and microrobots

Structural DNA nanotechnology has emerged as a powerful approach for the manipulation of bio systems
at the scale of living cells. This biotechnology enables the creation of nano- to microscale structures and
machines for molecular inquiry as well as advanced manufacturing. In this seminar I will first present a variety of cell-interfacing platforms for applications including the assessment of glyococalyx health, mod-
ulation of cellular biomechanics and delivery of nuclear cargo. To explore the advanced manufacturing potential of DNA nanotechnology, I will show how DNA can organize inorganic microparticles to facilitate
the assembly of swimming microrobots. To realize the potential for these synthetic biological platforms,
we need to (1) expand the capabilities of our design tools and (2) address the instability of these systems
in terms of degradation. Both of these challenges require mechanical tool development. To that end, I will show how current software design limitations can be addressed using emerging generative design ap-
proaches. And finally I will introduce peptide nucleic acid (PNA) nanomaterials that may provide im-
proved stability in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, these advances point to a next generation of robust and increasingly complex nucleic acid nanostructures and machines for cellular bioengineering and ro-
botic micromanufacturing.

Rebecca E. Taylor, ANSYS Career Development Chair in Engineering, Associate Professor Mechanical Eng, Biomedical Eng, and Electrical and Computer Eng

headshot of Rebecca Taylor

Taylor is the ANSYS Career Development Associ- ate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and, by courtesy, of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engi- neering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Her degrees are in Mechanical Engineering with a B.S.E in 2001 from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in 2013 with Prof. Beth Pruitt at Stanford University. During her postdoctoral train- ing she worked in the laboratory of Prof. James Spudich in Biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She joined the CMU faculty in 2016 and now combines both microfabrication and nanofabrication to create hybrid top- down and bottom-up fabricated sensors and actuators for nanobiosensing, robotics, and advanced manufacturing ap- plications. She is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein Na- tional Research Service Award (F32), the NSF CAREER award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Program Award and the 2021 CMU Dean’s Early Career Fellowship.

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