Bioinspired Soft Materials Center blurs boundaries between the animate and inanimate

Materials science and engineering research thrives in collaborative environments. On Feb. 18, 2015, NSF announced awards for 12 Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) for multidisciplinary work that covers all areas of material science, fostering active university, national laboratory, industrial and international collaboration with integral multidisciplinary education and outreach. The centers support some of the world's best multi- and interdisciplinary materials research and education addressing fundamental problems, such as developing new nanomaterials to build better artificial knee replacements and heart valves or developing 2-D materials that will likely transform computing. While some research centers in other disciplines may have one specific focus or mission, the MRSECs serve primarily as a hub of collaboration where research interests can range more broadly, addressing several scientific questions or issues. "The centers provide leadership for the country concerning new materials and new materials phenomena that could ultimately address national needs, including sustainability and innovation," said Mary Galvin, director of the NSF Division of Materials Research. "We are especially excited about the international, industrial and national laboratories' collaborations that will give junior researchers in the centers experiences valuable to their lives as scientists and engineers." Find out more in this news release. Credit: Hera Vlamakis, Harvard University Medical School

Multidisciplinary collaboration key to developing new materials that can mimic the movement of living things

Scientists at the Bioinspired Soft Materials Centerat Brandeis University are using fundamentally new approaches to study bioinspired soft materials, with the ultimate goal of developing new materials for artificial muscles, self-pumping fluids and self-healing materials.

The center is among the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It provides a multidisciplinary education for students in physics, chemistry and biology that will contribute to the workforce at the research frontiers and also contribute to the needs of emerging biomaterials industries. MRSECs support interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering that are important to society

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #0820492, Constraints and Frustration in Nano-Structured and Bio-Molecular Materials.