(10k) Soft Materials Engineering of Biological Interfaces

Authors: 
Beltramo, P. J., University of Pennsylvania
Research Interests:

The cell membrane is a complex two-dimensional fluid that organizes spatially and temporally to orchestrate processes such as cell division, protein signaling, and vesicle trafficking. Achieving an understanding of these processes has extensive applications in many areas, including drug delivery, cellular communication, mass and energy transport, and signal transduction. My approach to studying biological interfaces is to develop model phospholipid bilayers in vitroand building in complexity to mimic processes like membrane protein sorting and pore formation, nanoparticle wrapping and translocation, and lipid diffusion and flip-flop in asymmetric membranes. I have developed advanced microscopy, microfluidic, and electrophysiological tools for fabricating and characterizing large area model biomembranes. A distinguishing feature of this advance is the robust creation of tension-controlled membranes with millimeter-scale surface area in a planar geometry that can be simultaneously imaged and manipulated, for example by applying osmotic, thermal, chemical or hydrostatic pressure gradients. In this presentation, I will highlight my recent efforts in developing this platform and my vision for applying my expertise in several areas of inquiry important to modern chemical and biomolecular engineering- including a comprehensive understanding of lipid bilayer mechanics (elasticity, tension, viscosity), nanoparticle-membrane interactions and assembly, and collective membrane protein assembly and function.

Teaching Interests:

I am confident that my varied teaching experiences and educational background has trained me well to teach any core class in the undergraduate and graduate chemical engineering curriculum. During graduate school at Delaware, my teaching experience included being awarded a Teaching Fellowship to co-teach Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. At ETH Zürich, I have continued developing my teaching interests and skills by lecturing and assisting developing class projects for the Soft Materials course. In any course, it is my objective to emphasize the fundamentals of chemical engineering while promoting a classroom atmosphere of applied learning through discussions of the literature, practical demonstrations, and guest lecturers, if applicable. I would strive to incorporate group projects and assignments using Matlab (if basic programming is already taught) as this teaches algorithmic thinking and teamwork while applying the fundamentals learned in class in a meaningful way.

Post-doctoral Advisor: Prof. Jan Vermant, ETH Zürich

PhD Advisor: Prof. Eric M. Furst, University of Delaware

Selected Publications:

Beltramo, P. J.,Van Hooghten, R. and Vermant, J. â??Millimeter-area, free standing, phospholipid bilayers.â? Soft Matter, 12, 4324-4331, (2016).

Beltramo, P. J.,Schneider, D., Fytas, G. and Furst, E. M., â??Anisotropic hypersonic phonon propagation in films of aligned ellipsoids.â? Phys. Rev. Lett., 113(20), 205503, (2014).

Beltramo, P. J., Roa, R., Carrique, F. and Furst, E. M. â??Dielectric spectroscopy of concentrated colloidal suspensions.â? J. Colloid Interface Sci., 408(1), 54-58, (2013).

Schneider, D., Beltramo, P. J., Mattarelli, M., Crespy, D., Montagna, M., Pfleiderer, P., Vermant, J., Furst, E. M., and Fytas, G. F. â??Elongated Polystyrene Spheres as Building Blocks for Anisotropic Colloidal Crystals: A Particle Vibration Spectroscopy Study.â? Soft Matter, 9, 9129-9136, (2013).

Beltramo, P. J. and Furst, E. M. â??Predicting the disorder-order transition of dielectrophoretic colloidal assembly with dielectric spectroscopy.â? Electrophoresis, 34(7), 1000-1007, (2013).

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