We are interested in mimicking biological processes and materials at the molecular scale to develop materials and processes that bring the exquisite specificity and functionality of biological molecules and processes to engineering scales. We are particularly intrigued by cell membrane components - lipids and membrane proteins and ways to mimic their function in synthetic systems. We have been successful in utilizing synthetic analogs of both membrane proteins and lipids to create membranes and are working on developing the next generation of highly selective ion-ion, ion-water, and gas separation membranes based on these classes of materials.
Given the PI's background in industrial research in large scale water and wastewater treatment, we are very interested in improving current advanced separation systems used in the process, water, energy, and biotech industries. We contend that membranes are the key technology for closing the modern urban water cycle, decarbonization, and recourse extraction and recycling. We thus conduct a large fraction of our work in the area of synthetic and bioinspired membranes and attempt to bridge scales by approaching problems from both ends of the scale. At the full scale and pilot scales, we work on the challenges of fouling, concentration polarization, and pathogen removal demonstration in desalination systems and the use of decentralized desalination driven by renewable energy in remote and resource limited locations.
September 2023: Long time lab member and recent postdoc Charan Samineni is off to Stanford for a postdoc. Good Luck to him. Here is a group picture taken after a farewell breakfast,
January 2021: Happy New Year everyone! We have a new paper out in Science. This paper summarizes a 5+ yr long collaborative project between Dupont, Penn State, and UTAustin on evaluating nanoscale structure and transport in polyamide RO Desalination Membranes. Here is a link to the paper.
July 2020: Sophie wins the 2020 Environmental Engineering and Science Foundation (EESF) Master’s Degree Scholarship in Environmental Engineering. Congrats Sophie!
May 2020: The Kumar group with help from the Lind group at Arizona State organizes the first ever completely online NAMS conference. Some details here.
April 2020: Graduate student Matt Skiles wins the NSF grad fellowship. Congratulations Matt!
March 2020: Our Nature Materials paper made the cover! Congrats Yu-Ming and Woochul! See it here.
January 2020: Our paper summarizing a 10+ years long (unfinished) journey to create true membrane-protein based membranes has been published in Nature Materials. Over a trillion identical pores per cm2! Congrats Yu-Ming Tu, Woochul, and Tingwei. Read the paper here. This paper was highlighted in a News and Views perspective article by by Andrew Livingston and Zhiwei Liang .
January 2020: Award season is here. No, we did not win a Golden Globe or an Oscar but close :) Sophie just received the HDR Water Scholarship Award and Woochul received the NAMS Student Fellowship Award. Congratulations Sophie and Woochul!
January 2020: Nature nanotechnology has an editorial out on our paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-019-0627-3
December 2019: Our group had a small reuinon with our alums and were introduced to the Longhorn Santa in Austin. See pictures here.
December 2019: Our paper on the first artificial channel that can match the permeability and ion selectivity of aquaporins through a completely new mechanism published online in Nature Nanotechnology. Read it here. UT news story here. See also News and Views article in Nature Nano on this paper here. Congratulations Woochul!
December 2019: PhDs #9, #10, and #11 from our group graduate (defend) from Penn State. Congratulations to Tyler, Ratul, and Megan. Tyler is heading to Dow Chemical in Texas, Megan to Olympus in Texas, and Ratul is moving on to the Sorger Lab at the Harvard Medical School.
August 2019: Our collaborative paper with the Hickey group on a simple injection strategy to create micelles, microgels, and hydrogels from triblock copolymers was published online in Nature Communications. Read it here.
July/August 2019: As many of you probably already know, the group has now moved to UT Austin! Same awesome research, new location! So far this looks like a great place to live, work, and innovate.
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