Chemical Engineering Seminar
Prof. Ting Xu received her Ph.D from the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2004. She did her postdoctoral training jointly between the University of Pennsylvania and the Cold Neutron for Biology and Technology (CNBT) team at National Institute of Science and Technology from 2004-2006. She jointed University of California, Berkeley in both the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering and Department of Chemistry in January 2007. She was promoted to Associated professor with tenure in July 2012. Her research interests are to design and fabricate functional materials by controlling self-assemblies in multi-component systems. She was named as one of "Brilliant 10" by Popular Science Magazine in 2009. She is the recipient of several awards including 2007 DuPont Science and Technology Grant; 2008 3M Nontenured Faculty Award; 2008 DuPont Young Professor Award; 2009 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award; 2010 Li Ka Shing Woman Research Award; 2010 NASA Patent Award; 2011 Camille-Dreyfus Scholar-Teacher Award; 2011 ACS Arthur K. Doolittle Award, 2018 Bakar Fellow and 2018 S. T. Li Prize.
The scientific community has been striving for decades to generate biomimetic materials to access many of the beneficial properties seen in Nature. However, there has been limited success in obtaining structural control, catalytic activity, molecular transport, and modulated responsiveness to small perturbation. It remains challenging to decipher critical design rules to realize protein-like behavior in synthetic polymers. I will present our efforts to narrow this gap by developing protein-like random heteropolymers. Specifically, I will discuss three areas including insights gained in protein-polymer interactions using model peptide-polymer conjugates, protein stabilization in non-native environments and how to harvest statistically controlled randomness to design polymers as synthetic membrane proteins. These fundamental studies led to a rich library of functional materials for bioremediation, water treatment, disposable electronic, rapid ion transport and robust catalysis with many waiting to be explored.