Roseanna Zia is the recipient of 2014 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation
The CAREER Award is designed to support the development of junior faculty of exceptional promise who demonstrate creativity in research, and is also designed to recognize junior members of the faculty who show early promise in integrating their research and education goals within the context of the mission of the University.
The goal of Zia's CAREER proposal is to develop a predictive theory for gel stability by discovering and elucidating the underlying mechanisms of the sudden collapse of colloidal gels, with a view toward the rational design of soft biomaterials such as injectable drug delivery platforms and transplantable tissue scaffolds. Such theory is potentially transformative because it would establish qualitative understanding of gel collapse. Injectable gels have emerged in the past decade as a premier tool in tissue engineering and drug delivery due to their biocompatibility, tunability to different therapeutic moieties, and minimally invasive delivery. However, such gels are susceptible to sudden failure — without warning the scaffold collapses into a dense, structureless sediment; the transport of active compounds is dramatically curtailed, and the scaffold-like structural support is lost. It is not currently possible to predict gel collapse owing to the difficulty of detailed observation of collapse, the computational expense of simulating large-scale gel evolution, and limited theory of arrested colloidal dynamics. This study will create a window through which to view, in exacting detail of particle and network rearrangements, the real-time collapse, as it occurs. This will yield a phase map that, for the first time, predicts the collapse and the characteristic length scale, age, attraction and underlying forces that lead to collapse.T