MAE Seminar – Nature’s Unifying Theories and How They Can Be Used for Good


12:45 pm-1:45 pm
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MAE-A Room 303
939 Sweetwater Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


MAE Seminar – Nature’s Unifying Theories and How They Can Be Used for Good

Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at 12:50p, Location: In-Person MAE-A 303

Philip LeDuc, Ph.D, Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Computational Biology, and Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University

I have always been interested in examining whether seemingly unconnected areas of my life actually have intersections. For example, two areas that have always interested me are the mechanics of machines, such as taking apart lawnmowers in my youth, and the wonders of nature. While they seem unconnected, I wonder what are their commonalities, which has led me to work on this intersection for almost 2 decades toward unifying theories between them. Here, I will present how my lab has been looking for nature’s unifying theories that are threaded throughout life. My lab approaches this by envisioning different biological organisms as “systems” and examining how these unconnected systems intersect. We use our approaches as engineers to investigate these systems in nature, looking for unifying principles with some of the same fundamental approaches used on machines such as planes, trains, and automobiles. I work with a diversity of biological systems ranging from mammalian cells to microorganisms to plants, and we apply principles from mechanical engineering fields (e.g. solid mechanics, control theory, fluidics, heat transfer, and design) to understand how these principles may apply across diverse nature-based systems. My goal with my projects is to tackle grand challenges, so my work includes areas like improving health, sustainable energy, clean water, understanding evolution, and even art. We pursue these goals by developing and utilizing unique custom-built systems, including biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and computational biology. These intersections are especially fascinating to me as biological systems have evolved for distinct reasons (the “initial and boundary conditions” are different). In addition, as an engineer, I truly am interested in building new systems from the knowledge that we obtain thus, I will also present how our lab thinks about these nature-inspired design principles toward translational efforts.

Philip LeDuc (Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University; post-doctoral fellow, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) is the William J. Brown Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University with appointments in Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computational Biology. He has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Beckman Foundation Young Investigators Award while also being selected as a faculty member for the Sloan Foundation Minority Ph.D. Program. He has also been funded by other organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Keck Foundation. During his career, he has published articles in many journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Communications, JACS, Applied Physics Letters, Methods in Cell Biology, Advanced Materials, Nature Protocols, and Nature, and has given seminars across the world including South Africa, India, and Brazil. He has been on and helped organize many scientific meetings, including for the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the United States Congress, as well as being elected to the Science Advisory Council of the Beckman Foundation, and the Board of Directors for the Biomedical Engineering Society and American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering. He is also a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering. He has filed numerous patents, has started companies, and has consulted for a diversity of companies. His wife, Rachel, and Philip have a daughter and two sons. He has also been involved with many philanthropic organizations, including raising money for non-profit organizations and mission trips to Africa and Armenia.

MAE Faculty Host: Xin Tang


Hosted by

Xin Tang