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Engineering Elastin-like Peptides to Control Solid Surface Properties: A Biomaterials Research Platform and Education Tool

November 30, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

ChE Seminar Series Presents: Dr. Julie N. Renner

Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University

Abstract: Key biomaterials applications (e.g., bioelectronics, drug delivery, and tissue engineering) rely on control of solid surface properties for success. Surface-bound peptide monolayers are a promising way to control surface properties because peptides are biocompatible, easily tunable, can be stimuli-responsive, and possess specific secondary structures and binding capabilities. Our work focuses on enabling surface-bound peptide monolayers as a means of precisely engineering surfaces for biomaterials applications by understanding their assembly and sequence-driven properties. Specifically, we are establishing new engineering models to control and understand the behavior of surface-bound elastin-like peptides. We use a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation to provide detailed information about the binding behavior of the peptides under various conditions, including in an electric field. We also use techniques such as Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and cyclic voltammetry to further probe our materials. These techniques combined with traditional peptide analysis tools show that 1) the coverage of surface-bound elastin-like peptides can be predicted with a simple linear model based on mass loading and hydrophobicity and 2) control of peptide orientation can be achieved using a combination of electric field and peptide chemistry which results in the ability to dictate surface morphology, loading and properties. In addition, we demonstrate that biomolecular engineering is an excellent platform for service learning which engages East Cleveland high school students, as well as CWRU undergraduate and graduate students in way that significantly increases their self-efficacy in science and engineering. Generally, our results demonstrate that engineered surface-bound peptides are promising tools for biomaterials design and excellent education tools for helping to achieve a more diverse STEM workforce.

Bio: Dr. Julie N. Renner is a Climo Associate Professor at Case Western Reserve University. Her group has multiple projects developing biomolecular platforms to control solid-liquid interfaces including projects in nutrient recycling technology, resource recovery, antifouling, and biomaterials. Her work has been recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, an Electrochemical Society Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, and the Case School of Engineering Research Award. In addition, her efforts in the classroom have received the Case School of Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching Awards. Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Renner worked in a broad range of research areas. She spent four years conducting industrial research at Proton OnSite (now Nel Hydrogen), a world-leader in hydrogen generation via proton exchange membrane electrolysis. She completed her thesis as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at the Purdue School of Chemical Engineering, where she specialized in designing, creating, and characterizing novel polypeptide materials for tissue engineering applications. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of North Dakota where she worked on environmental remediation projects.


November 30, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


236 Richards
360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115 United States
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Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering
Undergraduate, Graduate, Faculty