Engineering Biology: Giving New Life to Materials for Energy, Electronics, the Environment and Medicine.
By Dr. Angela Belcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Organisms have been making exquisite inorganic materials for over 500 million years. Although these materials have many desired physical properties such as strength, regularity, and environmental benign processing, the types of materials that organisms have evolved to work with are limited. However there are many properties of living systems that could be potentially harnessed by researchers to make advanced technologies that are smarter, more adaptable, and that are synthesized to be compatible with the environment. One approach to designing future technologies which have some of these properties is to evolve organisms to work with a more diverse set of building blocks. These materials could be designed to address many scientific and technological problems in electronics, military, medicine, and energy applications. Examples include a virus enabled lithium ion rechargeable battery built at MIT that has many improved properties over conventional batteries, as well as materials for solar and catalysis. This talk will address conditions under which organisms first evolved to make materials and scientific approaches to move beyond naturally evolved materials to genetically imprint advanced technologies for energy.
Angela Belcher is a Materials Chemist with expertise in the fields of biomaterials, biomolecular materials, organic-inorganic interfaces and solid state chemistry. Her primary research focus is evolving new materials for energy, electronics and the environment. She received her B.S. in Creative Studies with an emphasis in biology from The University of California, Santa Barbara. She continued her education at UCSB and earned a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry (1997). Following a year of postdoctoral research in electrical engineering at UCSB, Dr. Belcher joined the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Chemistry in 1999. She joined the faculty at MIT in 2002 and now holds the W.M. Keck Chair in Energy. In 2002, she founded the company Cambrios Technologies, Inc., and in 2007 she founded Siluria Technologies, Inc.
In 2012, Dr. Belcher was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2010 Dr. Belcher received the Eni Prize for Renewable and Non-conventional Energy. In 2009, Rolling Stone Magazine listed her as one of the top 100 people changing the country. In 2007, Time Magazine named her a "Hero" - for her research related to Climate Change. In 2006, she was named Research Leader of the Year by Scientific American and was awarded a 2006 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough award. In 2005, she was named as one of 10 to watch by Fortune magazine for "how the world will work in the next 75 years." Other awards include the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; a Four Star General Recognition Award (US Army), Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), Top 10 Innovators Under 40 (Fortune Magazine), 2002 World Technology Award (Materials), 2002 Popular Science Brilliant Ten, 2002 Technology Review Top 100 Inventors (TR100). She is a 2001 Packard Fellow, won the 2001 Wilson Prize in Chemistry at Harvard University, 2001 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, received the 2000 Beckman Young Investigator Award, received the 1999 DuPont and IBM Young Investigator Awards, and the 1999 Army Research Office Young Investigators Award.
Her work has been published in many prestigious scientific journals including Science and Nature, and has been reported in the popular press including Time, Fortune, Forbes, Discover, Scientific American, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Washington Post, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal.
More info: http://www.fnal.gov/culture/NewArts/Lectures/12-13/belcher.shtml