Atul N. Parikh
Professor of Applied Science, College of Engineering
Professor, b. 1965; B. Chem. Eng., University of Bombay (1987); Ph.D., Materials Science (Polymer Science), The Pennsylvania State University (1994); Post-Doctoral Researcher, Chemical Science & Technology Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory (1996-1999); Technical Staff Member, Bioscience Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory (1999-2001)
Research in our group revolves around two distinct, but related themes: (1) developing detailed descriptions of biological processes and phenomena in terms of fundametal interactions at molecular level and (2) design of new materials and devices inspired by biology.
Our approach is primarily experimental. We utilize molecularly defined model systems and employ a suite of spectroscopic and imaging tools to characterize them.
The field of molecular biosciences is an emerging discipline at the intersection of molecular and cell biology, the physical sciences, and materials engineering. It uncovers and applies the principles of self-organization, recognition, regulation, replication, communication and cooperativity at molecular level. It has advanced to a promising area of applied science, undermining the borderline between scientific disciplines and offering new routes for the design of materials where the organization precedes the function. The technological promise includes, but extends well beyond, the health applications of biomaterials and biotechnology, and now encompasses novel nanotechnologies. The stage has been set by progress in modern molecular biology, the development of powerful spectroscopic and imaging characterization techniques, and advances in theoretical understanding. We are now ready for the development of a physical understanding of the complex but exquisite behavior manifested by biological systems, including recognition and response, self-assembly, and self-repair. Such an understanding can also be extended to the control of modern materials synthesis and will lead to new materials and processes with a broad range of technological impact.
Examples below illustrate some of the activities currently pursued in our group, often in collaborations involving internal partnerships with several other research groups at Davis well as other Universities (currently, UC Berkeley, University of New Mexico, UC Irvine, etc) and National Laboratories (currently Los Alamos, Livermore, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Sandia).
- Understanding and mimicking biomineralization: a biosynthetic tool that is used by living systems to grow inorganic materials using bio-organic templates.
- Understanding and mimicking molecular recognition, signal transduction, and molecular pathogenesis; and
- Understanding the molecular basis of interfacial phenomena, including wetting, spreading, and dewetting.