Bioeconomy Distinguished Lecture Series

December 3, 2020 11:00 AM  to 
December 3, 2020 12:00 PM

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January 14, 2021 11:00 AM  to 
January 14, 2021 12:00 PM

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March 18, 2021 11:00 AM  to 
March 18, 2021 1:30 PM

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NSF invests in fundamental research to support biotechnology and advance the U.S. bioeconomy across the sciences and engineering. 

Presented by NSF's Bioeconomy Coordinating Committee and NSF Directorates, this distinguished lecture series will bring in individual speakers and panels representing the science and technology funded by a Directorate every month.  Speakers will present on research and broader impacts in areas associated with biotechnology and the bioeconomy that are of interest broadly across the foundation.

All sessions will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern. Individual lectures will run until 12 noon, including question and answer, and panel sessions will run until 1:30 p.m. All sessions will be conducted virtually; viewing links for those lectures that do not have them listed below will be provided shortly.


Thursday, December 3, 2020 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. EST
(Cosponsored by the Bioeconomy Coordinating Committee, BIO, and CISE)
Mark Bathe, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Professor, Department of Biological Engineering
Co-Chair, MIT New Engineering Education Transformation

View a recording of the lecture: (Passcode: ?5U7M!ze)

View the lecture on YouTube:

A Tale of 2 Strands: From Genomes to Origami, Vaccines, Data Storage, and Back
Society faces innumerable grand challenges in the 21st Century, ranging from uncontrolled pathogenic outbreaks to exponentially growing data and computational needs that exceed the world’s supply of silicon, to next-generation sensing requirements for safe autonomous vehicle navigation and health monitoring. As scientists explore diverse material substrates to help address these challenges, DNA has emerged as a powerful biological medium due to its unique ability to fabricate arbitrary, virus-like structures at the nanometer-scale, store information at a density that vastly exceeds even flash memory, perform logic-based sensing and computing, as well as organize photonic elements to mimic quantum processes in photosynthetic bacteria and plants. In this presentation Bathe will share his work in several of these areas, with a focus on fabricating virus-like particles to rapidly screen vaccine candidates for emergent pathogens, and using DNA as a “hard-drive” with random access capabilities that could in principle operate at the yottabyte-scale for archival data.


Thursday, January 14, 2021 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. EST
(Cosponsored by the Bioeconomy Coordinating Committee, BIO, and OISE)
LaShanda Korley, PhD (University of Delaware)
Distinguished Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Director, UD Center for Research in Soft Matter and Polymers (CRiSP)

View the lecture on YouTube:

Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design: Towards Functional Materials
Materials that are found in nature display a wide range of properties, including responsiveness to the environment, signal transmission, and the ability to adapt to support life. Learning from nature or biomimicry can be a powerful tool in designing, developing, and accessing the next generation of synthetic materials and systems. Supported by the NSF PIRE program, Korley will discuss her Center efforts to utilize inspiration from nature to design new materials that can change toughness in response to their environment, are safer and more effective biological implants, will transmit nerve-like electrical signals, and can respond to the environment to initiate biological processes with an eye toward soft robotic applications. Via an international framework, a suite of educational and innovation activities will be described that guide the training of the next generation of global scientists and engineers in this interdisciplinary endeavor. With support from the NSF GCR and DMR, she will discuss the implementation of a life cycle management framework and collaborative research to develop performance advantaged materials. Sustainability in the context of new materials design will also be highlighted as a pathway for framework for broadening participation in science and engineering fields.


Thursday, March 18, 2021 (Cosponsored by the Bioeconomy Coordinating Committee, BIO, and ENG)
Lydia Contreras, PhD (University of Texas); Doug Densmore, PhD (Boston University); Julius Lucks, PhD (Northwestern University); and Jennifer Nemhauser, PhD (University of Washington)

View the lecture on YouTube:


Further lectures to be announced

Meeting Type

Jared Dashoff, 703-292-4523, email:
       Preferred Contact Method: Email

NSF Related Organizations
Directorate for Biological Sciences

Public Attachments
Bathe Lecture (Dec. 3) Flier
Korley Lecture (Jan. 14) Flier