MSE Seminar: “Designing Materials via Nature’s Blueprint”


3:00 pm-4:00 pm
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Rhines Hall Room 125
549 Gale Lemerand Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


LaShanda Korley, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
University of Delaware

Dr. LaShanda Korley is the Director of an Energy Frontier Research Center – Center for Plastics Innovation (CPI) funded by the Department of Energy and 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.

Prof. Korley is a Fellow of AIMBE, APS, and ACS PMSE & POLY. She also was awarded NOBCChE Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Research and the AIChE MAC William W. Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering. Prof. Korley recently was appointed a U.S. Science Envoy by the U.S. State Department. 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.


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.

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 also will be outlined that utilize dynamic associations to modulate mechanics and architecture utilizing features of the marine worm. 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 of macromolecular design, molecular engineering, and robust manufacturing.


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Department of Materials Science & Engineering