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Seminar: Nanomaterials Engineering to Probe and Control Living Systems

May 17, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

 Markita Del Carpio Landry
University of California, Berkeley
Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Thursday, May 17th, 2018
Noon in 1003 Kemper Hall

Nanomaterials Engineering to Probe and Control Living Systems

Abstract: Unique physical, chemical, and optical phenomena arise when materials are confined to the nano-scale. We are accustomed to making observations and predictions for the behavior of living systems on a macroscopic scale that is intuitive for the time and size scales of our day-to-day lives. However, the building blocks of life: proteins, nucleic acids, and cells, occupy different spatiotemporal scales. Our lab focuses on understanding and exploiting tunable optical and chemical properties of nanomaterials to access information about biological systems stored at the nano-scale. We present recent work on using nanosensors to measure the chemistry of the brain, in efforts to better understand how antidepressants and antipsychotics affect brain chemistry. We characterize our findings in the context of their utility for high spatial and temporal neuromodulator imaging in the brain with 2-photon microscopy [1], describe nanosensor exciton behavior from a molecular dynamics (MD) perspective, and validate nanosensors for use in vivo to correlate external stimuli (experiences, behavior) to chemical output (neurotransmission) [2]. We will also discuss how nanomaterials can be synthesized to carry biomolecular cargo to living systems. In particular, genetic engineering of plants is at the core of environmental sustainability efforts, natural product synthesis of pharmaceuticals, and agricultural crop engineering to meet the needs of a growing population changing global climate. However, the physical barrier presented by the cell wall has limited the ease and throughput with which exogenous biomolecules can be delivered to plants. We will describe how nanomaterials engineering principles can be leveraged to manipulate living plants, in efforts to reconcile the benefits of crop genetic engineering with the demand for non-GMO foods [3]. Our work in the agricultural space provides a promising tool for species-independent, targeted, and passive delivery of genetic material, without transgene integration, into plant cells for rapid and parallelizable testing of plant genotype-phenotype relationships.

Bio: Markita Landry is an assistant professor in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  She received a B.S. in Chemistry, and a B.A. in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additionally, she has held interim research positions at the Biophysics Institute at the Technical University of Munich, and at the center for nanobiosciences at Osaka University.Her current research centers on the development of synthetic nanoparticle-polymer conjugates for imaging neuromodulation in the brain, and for the delivery of functional biomolecules and nutrients into plants. The Landry lab exploits the highly tunable chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials for the creation of bio-mimetic structures, molecular imaging, and gene editing. She is a recent recipient of early career awards from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Beckman Young Investigator program, is a Sloan Research Fellow, an FFAR New Innovator, and is a Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator.


1003 Kemper Hall

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