Prof. Monica Olvera de la Cruz


Monica Olvera de la Cruz obtained her B.A. in Physics from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico, in 1981, and her Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University, UK, in 1985. She was as a guest scientist (1985-86) in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD. She joined Northwestern University in 1986, where she is Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and of Chemical & Biological Engineering and the director of the Materials Research Center. From 1995-97 she was a Staff Scientist in the Commissariat a l?Energie Atomique, Saclay, France, where she also held visiting scientist positions in 1993 and in 2003. She has developed theoretical models to determine the thermodynamics, statistics and dynamics of macromolecules in complex environments including multicomponent solutions of heterogeneous synthetic and biological molecules, and molecular electrolytes.

Her major awards include: 2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow; 2010 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship (DoD); 2007 Cozzarelli Prize, National Academy of Science (NAS); 1990-95 Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation (NSF); 1990-92 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship; 1989-94 David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Chair (Vice-Chair 2008-10) of the NAS NRC Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee. She is a member of the NAS NRC Board of Physics and Astronomy (2010-12) and has served in many other committees including the NAS NRC Research at the Intersection of Life and Physical Sciences Committee (2007-09), the NSF Mathematical Physical Science Directorate Advisory Committee (2005-09; DMR Chair, 2007-09) and the NSF MRSEC Executive Committee (Chair, 2008-09). She has directed various educational programs and has taught in prestigious schools and workshops. She serves on the advisory boards of many national research centers and is a member of the editorial board of Macromolecules, J. Polymer Science Polymer B: Polymer Physics, Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science, and Annual Review of Materials Research.



Icosahedral shapes have been identified in molecular crystalline shells such as large viral shells or fullerenes. We demonstrate that other geometries, including Platonic and Archimedean polyhedra, arise spontaneously in shells formed by more than one component (1). We describe the buckling of a crystalline shell with two coexisting elastic components, at different relative concentrations. Our work explains the principles to design various hallow polyhedra and the existence of regular and irregular polyhedral shells observed in viruses, organelles archaea and halophilic organisms. We provide computational and experimental evidence of the spontaneous buckling phenomena in shells made of mixtures of cationic and anionic amphiphiles, where electrostatics drives their co-assembly (2), and orders the assembly into faceted ionic structures with various crystalline domains.

1. G. Vernizzi, R. Sknepnek, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 118, 4292?4296 (2011).
2. M. A. Greenfield, L. C. Palmer, G. Vernizzi, M. Olvera de la Cruz, and S. I. Stupp, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131, 12030?12031 (2009).

Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science & Engineering
Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering

Director of Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Northwestern University

Tuesday 14th of August, Noon

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