Martha Grover, Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Chair, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Cycles and Systems: Ratcheting Toward Life
- Feedback control of colloidal crystallization for photonic materials
- Chemical evolution in the origins of life
- Modeling and control of pharmaceutical and nuclear waste crystallization
- Process-structure-property relationships in polymer organic electronics
Martha Grover’s research activities in process systems engineering focus on understanding macromolecular organization and the emergence of biological function. Discrete atoms and molecules interact to form macromolecules and even larger mesoscale assemblies, ultimately yielding macroscopic structures and properties. A quantitative relationship between the nanoscale discrete interactions and the macroscale properties is required to design, optimize, and control such systems; yet in many applications, predictive models do not exist or are computationally intractable.
The Grover group is dedicated to the development of tractable and practical approaches for the engineering of macroscale behavior via explicit consideration of molecular and atomic scale interactions. We focus on applications involving the kinetics of self-assembly, specifically those in which methods from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics do not provide closed form solutions. General approaches employed include stochastic modeling, model reduction, machine learning, experimental design, robust parameter design, and estimation.
Cyclic environmental conditions are the natural outcome of a spinning planet that is orbiting around a star. Such cyclic environments drive non-equilibrium behavior and provide phases that promote various covalent and non-covalent reactions. In particular, heating from the sun drives heating and then drying, while the system can rehydrate during the cold dark phase. The hot dry phase can promote disassembly and condensation reactions, while a cool hydrated phase drives assembly and bond hydrolysis. Here two examples will be described that were studied in the Center for Chemical Evolution: the polymerization of depsipeptides and the replication of nucleic acid polymers.