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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Leckband receives 2021 Langmuir Lectureship Award

Deborah Leckband
Deborah Leckband

Langmuir and the ACS Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry are proud to announce professors Deborah E. Leckband (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Ivan I. Smalyukh (University of Colorado – Boulder) as the winners of the 2021 Langmuir Lectureship Award. The award recognizes individuals working in the interdisciplinary field of colloid and surface chemistry.

Professor Leckband is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Reid T. Milner Professor in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Illinois. She has affiliate professor appointments in the Beckman Institute, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab, and the bioengineering department. She is also the leader of The Biological Interfaces Group, whose research is determining how the physical-chemical properties of surfaces impact fundamental biological functions and device/material performance in biological environments.

What does winning this year’s award mean to you?

Being selected as a 2021 Langmuir Lecturer is a terrific honor. Since my postdoc years with Jacob Israelachvili, I have been fascinated by the ways that surface science affects biology, from fundamental processes like cell adhesion to preventing marine fouling on ships. I have many superb colleagues in the field. Their recognition of my contributions in this way is both humbling and an honor.

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

Our most exciting current work started with a recent collaboration with Martin Gruebele who invented a way to measure protein folding stability in nanoliter volumes in cells. I realized that this approach could also generate exciting new insight into how materials affect protein stability in situ. We study proteins on surfaces, in solution, and in 3D materials at sub-micron resolution. In just a couple of years, we’ve already discovered some surprising ways that polymers can preserve or shut down protein function.  This new knowledge will be used to guide the design of new biomaterials with enhanced biological activity and stability.

Read more about Smalyukh in the original announcement.

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