Biointerfaces Institute Mcmaster University
My research at McMaster revolves around the design of functional biohybrid systems. Biohybrid systems integrate biological colloids (specifically bacteria and bacteriophage) as functional building blocks, along with non-biological colloids/surfaces (hydrogels, polymers, nanoparticles) that provide structural support and aid in the functionality of the hybrid system. This is a budding field of research that seeks knowledge at the interface of microbiology, surface chemistry and material science. The aim of the biohybrid approach is to engineer function at colloidal scale, a task that despite the massive progress of nanotechnology has remained exclusive to biological systems. Bacteria and viruses perform remarkable feats of engineering, (e.g. self-propagation, molecular recognition, targeted binding, autonomous actuation and dynamic trigger response), unparalleled by any artificial system. Advances in biological engineering have enabled better control and understanding of these functions and have provided tools for engineering new functions into biological systems. Integration of biological entities into synthetic constructs allows for the exploitation of their inherent intelligence for the design of smart, active synthetic material and multifunctional soft autonomous systems that address challenges in human health and pressing environmental issues.