Tailoring Mechanics using Nature ’ s Building Blocks LaShanda T. Korley, Case Western Reserve University, DMR 0953236. Nature uses amino acids to hierarchically-design mechanically robust materials, such as silks, collagen and titin. 
Nature uses amino acids to hierarchically-design mechanically robust materials, such as silks, collagen and titin. 
We have used poly(amino acids) to modify the mechanical properties of traditional polyurethanes, particularly for low strain applications. 
Further developments may lead to polymeric hybrids with tailored mechanical response with potential applications in smart coatings and biomaterials for tissue engineering scaffolds.
Without poly(amino acids)
With poly(amino acid)s
Enhanced stiffness, but brittle
Stretchy, but soft
The well-defined secondary structures of these building blocks are also being exploited to develop responsive materials for ‘smart’ applications utilizing thermally-activated poly(amino acids).
 J.C. Johnson & L.T.J. Korley, Soft Matter, 2012, 10.1039/C2SM26185E;  J. C. Johnson, N. D. Wanasekara & L. T. J. Korley, Biomacromolecules, 2012, 13, 1279–1286
Sister 2 Sister
Approximately 15 women faculty, administrators, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students participated in an evening forum to share experiences in academia and industry in STEM disciplines and to dialogue about future career pathways. It is generally held 3 times per year.
An undergraduate and a graduate student teamed up to highlight the fields of chemical engineering, and polymer science and engineering to a group of ~40 middle school students in Shaker Heights, OH. Hands-on demonstrations involving extrusion and mixing were developed for the students.