Seminar: Synthetic Biological Systems for Environmental Deployment

The BSE Department invites us to join them for the seminar “Synthetic Biological Systems for Environmental Deployment” presented by Dr. Warren Ruder, candidate for a BSE assistant professor position.

Date: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Location: Fralin Auditorium

Dr. Warren Ruder is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Boston University, Harvard Wyss Institute, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  His current research focus is the construction of synthetic gene networks to enable bacteria to execute complex programmed behavior.  Dr. Ruder received his B.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

IDR Day 2012 coming soon

2nd IDR Day, Tuesday, April 10, 5:00-9:30 pm, The Inn at Virginia Tech

The Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society (IDR) is sponsoring the 2nd Interdisciplinary Research Day (IDR Day 2012) at Virginia Tech. Enjoy an evening of exciting discussions about transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. At the beginning of the event we will welcome our new honor members into the society and review this year’s accomplishments. Then the audience will subdivide into groups to tackle modern-day wicked problems through creative integration of the different disciplines represented in the group. Dinner is provided. Registration is FREE but required due to limited spaces. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend. For the event program and registration, please go to:

Essay Contest: Communicating the Importance of Interdisciplinary Research

2012 Iota Delta Rho Award for Interdisciplinary Research Essay of the Year

Iota Delta Rho, an interdisciplinary honor society at VT, would like to encourage all students to participate in this year’s essay contest!  Open to all Virginia Tech students at any degree level.

A prize will be awarded to the best essay answering the following question:

Choose a public audience (not a university-based one).  How would you explain to them the value of interdisciplinary research?

Examples of possible audiences include, but are not limited to, an elementary school class, a church group, members of Congress, etc.  Please make the chosen audience explicit at the beginning of your essay, and keep this audience in mind throughout your essay.  You can think of this essay as a speech, for example.  Your examples do not have to be limited to your own research area.  Be creative!

Applicants are required to submit the following items electronically to Carol Johnson ( by midnight on Sunday, April 1:

  1. One-page cover page including the essay title, applicant name, program/college/degree level, and a short biography.
  2. 500 word essay answering the IDR-related question above.

Seminar: George Lauder on fish robotics

Fish robotics: understanding the diversity of fishes using mechanical devices

George V. Lauder,
Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor
Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
Tuesday, February 28, 10-11:30 am
ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

There are over 28,000 species of fishes, and a key feature of this remarkable evolutionary diversity is the variety of propulsive systems used by fishes for swimming in the aquatic environment. Fishes have numerous control surfaces which act to transfer momentum to the surrounding fluid. In this presentation I will discuss the results of recent experimental kinematic and hydrodynamic studies of fish locomotor function, and the implications for construction of robotic models of fishes.   Continue reading

Seminar: Biomechanics of the Cornea and Sclera

Biomechanics of the Cornea and Sclera
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
2:45 – 3:45 PM
Dr.Thao (Vicky) Nguyen
The Johns Hopkins University

The transparent cornea and opaque sclera together form the primary structural component of the eye. Both tissues serve to protect the delicate internal ocular structures from external injuries and maintain an optimal ocular shape for vision. The mechanical properties of the tissues stem from the fibrous microstructure of the stroma, which consists of densely stacked lamellae of type I collagen fibrils embedded in a matrix of proteoglycans and elastin. Diseases such as keratoconus, myopia, and glaucoma have been associated with alterations in the fibrous microstructure and mechanical properties of the tissues. This seminar will present the development of inflation test methods with full-field displacement measurements to characterize the spatially varying, anisotropic, and time-dependent properties of the cornea and sclera, and constitutive and computational models to investigate the microstructural origins of these complex mechanical properties. Recent application of these methods to study the influence of scleral mechanics in the development of glaucoma will also be presented.

Thao D. Nguyen obtained her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1998, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 2004. Upon receiving her degree, she worked as a research scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA then joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University as an Assistant Professor in 2007. Her research focuses on the biomechanics of soft tissues and the thermo-mechanics of polymers. Dr. Nguyen was awarded the 2008 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her work on constitutive modeling of shape memory polymers.

MultiSTEPS team meeting with Dean DePauw on Feb 13

The meeting with Dean DePauw and Dr. Aigster has been set for Monday, Feb 13, from 12-1pm in Dean DePauw’s conference room.

This conference room is located in the Graduate Life Center.  Enter through the glass doors that face Squires.  Walk through the lobby (black & white floor), up the (central) lobby stairs, to the elevator.  Select “2R” on the elevator panel.  When you exit – the  conference room is in the right wing of the building, on the left side of the hall, Room 238.

The meeting will involve, at least in part, a discussion of this blog site.

SBES seminar on nanoparticles for targeted therapy

Distinguished Lecturer Series:  Thursday, February 2nd, 10am – 11am
WFU: Radiology Lecture Hall, 1st floor MRI Bldg.

Title:  In situ Optical Sensing with Plasmonic Nanostructures: From Biotechnology to Energy Systems
Speaker:  Dr. Rizia Bardhan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

PDF of announcement for Dr. Bardhan’s Seminar

VT Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society now accepting membership applications

Iota Delta Rho, the Interdisciplinary Research Organization and Honor Society, will accept applications for membership starting January 31, 2012. IDR has many levels of membership, including a membership for those who only wish to participate at the organization level. Information on different membership levels, the Honor Society Application Packages, and a FAQ sheet can be found at If you have any questions, please contact Tammy Parece at

Shane D. Ross receives an NSF CAREER Award

The National Science Foundation’s Dynamical Systems Program has selected MultiSTEPS team member Dr. Shane Ross’s work for funding by the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.  His award-winning work is titled “CAREER: Integrating Geometric, Probabilistic, and Topological Methods for Phase Space Transport in Dynamical Systems“.  See the Engineering Science & Mechanics News Article for more information.  Congratulations Dr. Ross!