MAE Seminar: Soft and biological materials: From sand to proteins to cells

Date(s) - 11/03/2010
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Prof. Corey S. O'Hern, Departments of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Yale University


Over the past ten years, my research group has focused on understanding the statistical mechanics of jammed particulate systems such as colloidal glasses and granular materials.  Using a variety of computational and theoretical techniques, we have found a many fascinating results for nonequilibrium systems that do not occur in thermal liquids and solids.  Examples include the breakdown of equi-probability of microstates as in the microcanonical ensemble and strongly nonharmonic response of granular solids even for vanishingly small vibrations.  In addition, we have shown that geometric and packing constraints often determine the key structural, mechanical, and even dynamical properties of jammed systems.  More recently, my research group has been investigating to what extent packing constraints play a role in determining biological structures and interactions.  I will highlight our studies of the conformational dynamics of intrinsically disordered proteins, the binding affinity of repeat proteins and their cognate peptides, and the size, shape, and mobility of epithelial cells in monolayers.



Prof. Corey S. O’Hern graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with a B.S. in Physics in 1994.  He received a Ph.D. in Physics in 1999 from the University of Pennsylvania working with Prof. Tom Luebenksy on elasticity theories for biomaterials.  From 1999-2002, he was a postdoctoral associate working with Profs. Andrea Liu from UCLA (now at UPenn) and Sidney Nagel from the University of Chicago on theoretical and computational studies of jamming.  In 2002, he become a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Yale University.  He is now an Associate Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science and Physics.  In 2008, with colleagues from Biology and Physics and internal funding from Yale, he co-founded the Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology for Ph.D. students working on scientific questions at the interface of biology and physics.