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Truskett Research Group

Interfaces and the structure & dynamics of complex fluids

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin,  1 University Station C0400, Austin, Texas 78712

Thomas Truskett | People | Papers | Google Scholar Profile

News Highlights

Tom Truskett

Department Chair, Les and Sherri Stuewer Endowed Professor, and

Bill L. Stanley Leadership Chair

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering

 

truskett at che dot utexas dot edu

 

Current Research Focus

 

Concentrated Dispersions of Therapeutic Proteins for Subcutaneous Delivery

Current Sponsor:  National Science Foundation, Industry sponsors

Protein-based drugs represent some of the most promising therapies for a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Subcutaneous injection is the preferred method of delivery, but its usefulness is currently limited by unwanted outcomes such as protein aggregation and gelation that occur for high doses. Previous attempts to address these problems by modifying the amino-acid sequence of potential therapeutics have been expensive and often unsuccessful. We explore a new method for creating highly concentrated, low-viscosity dispersions of stable protein nanoclusters that are not only of great fundamental interest but also could provide a basis for an unconventional means for solving major challenges in the protein-based therapeutics.  The goal of the proposal is to explore and develop a fundamental understanding of how the protein nanoclusters form, why they stabilize the folded state of the proteins, and the impact of the clusters on the physical properties of dispersions.

 

 

How Nanoscale Confinement Affects the Liquid State

Current Sponsor:  The Welch Foundation

Molecules of a liquid respond to the presence of an interface by adopting a spatially inhomogeneous average structure.  The nature of this structure has important implications for thermodynamic properties as well as for single-molecule and collective relaxation processes of the liquid.  While classical density functional theories can often make quantitatively reliable predictions about how a particular substrate will modify the equilibrium behavior of a liquid it contacts, the consequences for the liquid-state molecular dynamics in the interfacial region remain challenging to forecast even for basic model systems. Moreover, despite the fact that time- and space-resolved single-molecule displacement data are now becoming more widely accessible from both computer simulations and experiments (e.g., confocal microscopy of confined colloidal suspensions), a theoretical framework for quantitatively analyzing how local aspects of molecular structuring and dynamics of inhomogeneous liquids are linked to one another has been slow to emerge. We are leveraging new theoretical methods - coarse master equation approaches, advanced Monte Carlo sampling techniques, and efficient molecular dynamics algorithms - to study (i) how the nature of the substrate affects molecular relaxation processes near the liquid-substrate interface and (ii) the inverse problem of how best to modify the chemistry of the substrate in order to tune local relaxation processes of the liquid.
   
 

Inverse Methods for Tuning Dynamics of Complex Fluids

Current Sponsor:  National Science Foundation

The aim of this work is to develop strategy for systematically predicting how the effective interactions between suspended particles in complex fluids should be modified in order to achieve desired changes in their dynamic properties. Recent advances in materials chemistry and colloid science have provided experimentalists with a variety of tools for both measuring and tuning the effective interactions between nanoparticles or colloids suspended in solvent. To help take full advantage of these developments, new theoretical inverse optimization methods of statistical mechanics have been introduced to predict which effective interactions will cause a system to realize a targeted structural or thermodynamic property under equilibrium conditions. Unfortunately, similar progress on optimizing interactions for dynamic properties has been elusive, largely due to the lack of an accurate first principles theory for dynamics (e.g., comparable in reliability and generality to statistical mechanical theories for static properties of the liquid state). However, in work from our recent NSF grant (CBET 0448721), we demonstrated that there are basic static properties related to the excess entropy of both simple and complex fluid systems that strongly correlate, over a very wide range of system parameters, with the corresponding transport coefficients. The hypothesis of our work in this area is that, as a consequence of these correlations, one can indirectly tune the dynamics of complex fluid systems by applying inverse optimization techniques to the associated “dynamically relevant” static quantities.

   
 

Computational Design of Nanomaterials by Pattern Replication

Current Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

Nanometer-scale components are required for disk drives and memory storage devices, light-emitting diodes, solar energy devices, and microarrays for genomics, proteomics, and tissue engineering applications. Lithographic methods are commonly used to manufacture these components, however a key challenge that they face is creating features smaller than 20nm in a way that is reliable, cost-effective and rapid enough for industrial-scale manufacturing processes. The aim of this project is to use computational tools taken from inverse statistical mechanics to allow for a "bottom up" design of nanomaterials. The focus is on use of substrates pre-patterned on the micron scale to direct the self-assembly of much smaller nanoparticles into technologically useful structures that would be difficult to create otherwise.
   
 

Equilibrium dispersant behavior relevant to deep-sea water conditions

Current Sponsor:  Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

The behaviors of oil dispersants in water at low temperature and high pressure help determine the fate of oil-water droplets in the deep-sea column and the formation of undersea oil-water “plumes”. These phenomena have received considerable attention lately in the search for practical ways to reduce negative environmental effects of deepwater oil releases. Rational design of surfactant or nanoparticle dispersant systems for such applications is challenging for a few reasons. First, most available information on thermodynamic and transport properties of aqueous-phase dispersant systems comes from experiments or simulations at near-ambient conditions (moderate temperatures and pressures and low salt concentration). Furthermore, experiments and computer simulations of simplified lattice-based models that have focused on low temperature and high pressure report qualitatively different micellization and surfactant aggregation behavior under these conditions, owing to entropy-enthalpy compensation effects with subtle molecular-scale origins. In other words, even qualitative predictions based on extrapolated behavior from higher temperature and lower pressure are not generally reliable for these systems. We are using molecular simulation and liquid-state theory to gain insights into these systems, focusing on the low-temperature, high-pressure, and high-salt-concentration behavior.
   
 

Multiscale Modeling of Protein Solutions

Current Sponsor:  National Science Foundation

Our group has also developed a new multi-scale approach for modeling the effective interactions between proteins in solution. These interactions are calculated by considering the statistical mechanics of collapsible heteropolymers in aqueous solvent. The goal of this project is to build an effective computational strategy for predicting how protein sequence and solution parameters affect both (i) the stability of protein molecules in concentrated or interfacial environments and (ii) the competition between crystallization, aggregation, and gelation in protein mixtures. We have analyzed the behavior of protein solutions by integrating our effective interactions into both statistical mechanical theory and Transition Matrix Monte Carlo simulations.

 News Highlights


 

UT Engineering Professor Wins Research Award

Austin Business Journal

December  2013

 

Truskett and collaborators awarded $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to study concentrated protein solutions for subcutaneous delivery

National Science Foundation

September 2012

 

Pond et al. BD-MD scaling [Soft Matter 7, 9859 (2011)] shown to describe dynamics simulations of complex (dusty) plasmas.

Physics of Plasmas 19, 034503 (2012)

Link to the Pond et al.  Soft Matter paper

March 2012

 

Soft Matter highlights Carmer et al. work on designing tracer particles with targeted dynamics

Soft Matter blog, RSC publshing

Link to the Carmer et al. Soft Matter paper

March 2012

 

Material witness: Cluster control

Philip Ball, Nature Materials 11, 185 (2012); doi:10.1038/nmat3264

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

March 2012

 

Protein nanoclusters hold potential for drug delivery

Hannah Stanwix, News and Views in Nanomedicine 7, 31 (2012)

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

March 2012

 

Nanoclusters make proteins concentrate

In Nano, ACS Nano

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

March 2012

 

Protein nanoclusters may provide more effective drug delivery

Pharmaceutical Formulation & Quality, Wiley

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

March 2012

 

 

Researchers’ Innovation Addresses Major Challenge of Drug Delivery

Cockrell School of Engineering,

The University of Texas at Austin

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

January 2012

 

 

Protein drugs that are easy to take

Chemical & Engineering News

Highlight of our recent ACS Nano article with Keith Johnston and Jennifer Maynard

January 2012

 

The Consortium for the Molecular Engineering of Dispersant Systems (C-MEDS), including our work on modeling deep-sea dispersant molecular thermodynamics, is now funded through the Gulf Research Initiative

Gulf Research Initiative

January 2012

 

Mark Ferraro selected for inaugural class of NASA Space Technology Research Fellows

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

June 2011

 

Gaurav Goel starts faculty position in chemical engineering at IIT Delhi

Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Delhi

June 2011

 

Truskett group awarded National Science Foundation grant to study inverse methods for tuning the dynamics of complex fluids

National Science Foundation,

May 25, 2011

 

Truskett group awarded Welch Foundation grant to study single-molecule and collective dynamics of liquids near interfaces

The Welch Foundation,

April 9, 2011

 

Truskett's promotion to rank of full professor approved by President Powers

The University of Texas at Austin

December, 2010

 

Excess entropy scaling work chosen as one of ten impactful science stories of 2010 by National Science Foundation's TeraGrid Science Highlights

National Science Foundation

December, 2010

 

Tuning nanoparticles for speed

Texas Advanced Computing Center Press Release

February, 2010

 

Pond et al. article on Gaussian-core mixtures among top 20 most downloaded from Journal of Chemical Physics for October 2009.

Journal of Chemical Physics

November, 2009

 

Jeetain Mittal starts faculty position in chemical engineering at Lehigh University

Department of Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University

September, 2009

 

see Physical Review Focus about Karayiannis et al. PRL

Physical Review Focus

July, 2009

 

Krekelberg et al. paper on the Gaussian-core model selected for Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research

Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research

April, 2009

 

Chemical engineering associate professor to give 2009 Dudley A. Saville Lecture at Princeton

Press Release, The University of Texas at Austin

February, 2009

 

The Future of Transport Phenomena:  Highlights, Photos, Lectures

Centennial Celebration of the AIChE

November, 2008

 

Prof. Truskett featured as one of nine faculty visionaries for "Chemical Engineering in the Next 25 Years"

Chemical Engineering Progress

November 5, 2008

 

Truskett one of 25 industry and academia thought-leaders contributing to the AIChE Centennial Future Thoughts Project

AIChE Centennial Program

November 5, 2008

 

Chemical engineering professor to give the 2008 Thiele Lecture

Press release, The University of Texas at Austin

September 25, 2008

 

Link to Notre Dame's Thiele Lecture announcement.

Previous Thiele Lecturers.

 

Truskett group awarded Welch Foundation Grant to study single-molecule and collective dynamics of liquids near interfaces

The Welch Foundation,

April 10, 2008

 

Researchers explain particle motion in microchannels

LabTechnologist.com,

March 25, 2008

 

Chemical engineers discover new way to control particle motion potentially aiding micro- and nano-fluid systems for drug delivery, sensors, more

Press Release, The University of Texas at Austin,

March 18, 2008

 

Faculty Spotlight:  Dr. Thomas M. Truskett 

Vector,

March,2008

 

Gaurav Goel awarded department of chemical engineering fellowship for excellence in research

Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, September 8, 2007

 

Mittal et al. Feature Article on the cover of Journal of Physical Chemistry B

Feature Article

Journal of Physical Chemistry B, August 31, 2007

 

Chemical Engineer receives national award for excellence in publications

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, June 21, 2007

 

Alumnus Thomas Truskett *01 to receive the 2007 Colburn Award

Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, June 22, 2007

 

Truskett to deliver 2007 Van Ness Award  Lectures at RPI

Dept of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, October 10 & 11, 2007

 

Cheung et al. Biophysical Journal Article Recommended as Hidden Jewel by Faculty of 1000 Biology

Faculty of 1000 Biology, April, 2007

 

PNAS article on hydrophobic collapse selected for Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research

Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research, February, 2007

 

Cheung et al. Journal of Chemical Physics article selected for Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research

Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research, January, 2007

 

Surface interactions can significantly modify fluid properties at the nanoscale

MRS Bulletin, August, 2006

 

Invited Participants for the 12th German-American Frontiers of Science Symposium

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, June, 2006

 

Engineers discover predictor of mobility for fluids at nano-scale

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, May 5, 2006

 

UT faculty get fellowships for science and math

Austin Business Journal, April 17, 2006

 

Truskett wins Sloan Research Fellowship

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, press release, February 22, 2006

 

New Insights into the Physical Causes of Protein Aggregation Revealed

Technical Highlights - Physical and Chemical Properties Division - NIST, December, 2005

 

Dr. Truskett is College's Outstanding Engineering Teacher

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, December 1, 2005

 

Inventive Young Engineers Selected to Participate in NAE's 2005 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium
National Academy of Engineering, press release, July 11, 2005

 

Truskett selected to attend prestigious national symposium
College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, press release, August 18, 2005, 2005

 

Truskett receives the 2005 College of Engineering Award for Outstanding Engineering Teaching by an Assistant Professor

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, May 19, 2005

 

Bill Krekelberg awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

National Science Foundation, April 18, 2005

 

Tom Truskett receives 2005 NSF CAREER Award

National Science Foundation, January 12, 2005

 

Chemical Engineer Receives $400,000 to Test Theory Explaining How Nano-Confinement Affects Materials

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, press release, March 22, 2005

 

Two Nano-Researchers Awarded NSF CAREER Award

Texas Nano Letter, April, 2005

 

2004 Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering Awarded to Sixteen Young Researchers

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, press release, October 15, 2004

 

Chemical engineering professor awarded $625,000 to study cell protein behavior and nano-size glassy materials

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, press release, November 9, 2004

 

No small change:  UT professor lands $625,000 fellowship

Austin Business Journal,  November 9, 2004

 

Assistant professor receives $625,000 fellowship

The Daily Texan,  November 9, 2004

 

UT professor wins fellowship

The Austin American Statesman,  November 23, 2004

 

No Thaw Flaw in the Third Law

Science, 5 October 2001, Vol. 294, page 17

 

Shake and Pack

Nature, 13 March 2000

 

Random Packing of Spheres

Science News, Vol. 157, No. 14, April 1, 2000, p. 219

 

Unpacking a Particle Problem

BBC News, Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 15:13 GMT

 

   

 

   
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