I design and build microscale, soft actuators that use single muscle cell contractions as a driving force. I have shown a flagella-like swimmer consisting of a PDMS filament that swims at low Reynolds number. I am currently working to build multicellular biohybrid machines with networks of neurons and myocytes. I hope to use the complex internal machinery of the eukaryotic cell to build programmable, self-powered, biohybrid robotics.
I develop platforms to investigate the role of cyclical stretch to influence the spontaneous contractile cycle of cultured cardiomyocytes. Several studies have established that cyclical strain fields applied externally to contractile cardiomyocytes can induce variation in contractile dynamics and gap junction formation. We probe the ability of strain sensitive calcium handling mechanisms to modulate the temporal dynamics of spontaneuosly contracting cardiomyocytes by fabricatingsoft subtrates that mechanically couple electrically isolated populations of cardiomyocytes, as well as a mechanism to generate external sinusoidal strain fields.