Biological materials sense and respond to their environment. When you exercise, you get stronger. When you cut your skin, you heal. But the built environment and the machines that surround us don’t do this… why not? Because they aren’t built with biological materials, like we are! What if, instead of building machines with metals and plastics, we built machines powered by biology? This is the motivation underlying the new field of biohybrid design which is revolutionizing robotics, medicine, and the world around us. This talk will introduce you to robots that use living skeletal muscle to move and walk around, the first demonstrations of their kind. Unlike traditional robots made of synthetic materials, these biohybrid robots dynamically adapt to their environment, and can do things like exercise to get stronger and recover completely from damage. They are one of the first applications of the emerging discipline of biohybrid design, a field that promises building with biology will shape our technological future.
About the Presenter
Ritu Raman, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Langer Lab Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Ritu Raman is an engineer and writer with a passion for biohybrid design: building machines powered by biological materials that work with the human body to fight disease and damage. She received her B.S. magna cum laude from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow advised by the renowned Prof. Robert Langer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She holds many awards for scientific innovation, including receiving a L’Oréal USA Women in Science Fellowship and being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30: Science and the MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 lists. Ritu grew up in India, Kenya, and the United States where she learned to appreciate and thrive in diverse and dynamic environments. She is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM and has championed many initiatives to empower women in science, including being named a AAAS IF/THEN ambassador and founding the Women in Innovation and STEM Database at MIT (WISDM).