Colloid and Interface Science / Biomimetic Materials Chemistry

The Keating research group has two major interdisciplinary research themes in the general areas of physical chemistry, colloid and interface science, biological chemistry and materials: 

(1) Cytomimetic chemistry, with an emphasis on experimental model systems for subcellular microcompartmentalization, and 

(2) Self- and directed assembly of particles, with an emphasis on bridging top-down and bottom-up fabrication approaches for multicomponent functional structures.

Click on one of the areas above, or from the menu on the right, to learn more. Our home is in the Chemistry Department at Penn State University, and we are affiliated with the Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences, the Materials Research Institute, and the Center for Nanoscale Science (an NSF supported MRSEC). Prof. Keating also serves on the graduate faculty of the Bioengineering Department.

Postdoctoral Opening in Bioinspired Mineralization

click here to learn more

Group News:

October 11 – New paper with collaborators Begona Monterroso, Silvia Zorilla, Marta Sobrinos-Sanguino & German Rivas in Madrid, Spain: Microenvironments created by liquid-liquid phase transition control the dynamic distribution of bacterial division FtsZ protein has just been published in Scientific Reports.

October 1 – Wedding of former Keating group members Dr. Stacey Dean and Dr. James Sioss – congratulations James and Stacey!!

September 19–23 – Chris at NSF/NASA Ideas Lab on Origins of Life

September 9 – Second Annual Safety Olympics. Chemistry Department wins Departmental Safety Award & Keating group team (Ally, Andrew, Fatma, and Jen) take 3rd place!

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September 7 – Bill, Fatma & Brad’s new paper in LangmuirRNA-based coacervates as a model for membraneless organelles: Formation, properties, and interfacial liposome assembly, has been published as Just Accepted 

August 18-19 – Lab Cleanup!

August 8 – Dr. Nathan Burrows joins the lab as the MRSEC IRG4 postdoc. Welcome, Nathan!

August 4 – Congratulations to NCCU undergraduate researchers Mizrain Ramirez and Kleyser Agueda Lopez on their end-of-summer research talks and posters!

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                                          Kleyser at his poster

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Everyone at Mizrain’s poster. (clockwise from L: Prof. Ray Schaak, Migraine Ramirez, Kleyser Agueda Lopez, XueFei Li (Schaak lab grad student mentor), Nicole Famularo (Keating lab grad student mentor) and Prof. Chris Keating).

August 4 – Congratulations to K-12 teachers Mark Yeckley, Marty Dombrowski, and Kristin Gormley! on their end-of-summer research talks and posters!

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Kristin Gormly with her poster on surfactant chemistry for grade school students, “Good, Clean Science!"

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Marty Dombrowski with her poster on “The Science of Soap” for middle-school.

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Mark Yeckley with his poster on air quality monitoring for a High School Meteorology class & his home-built air particulate monitor

July 1 – Bill’s new review article, Experimental models for dynamic compartmentalization of biomolecules in liquid organelles: Reversible formation and partitioning in aqueous biphasic systems, has been published online at Advances in Colloid and Interface Science

June 27 – Welcome to K-12 teachers Mark Yeckley, Marty Dombrowski, and Kristin Gormley!

May  – Congratulations to graduate student Nicole Famularo for being awarded an NSF Graduate Fellowship!

May 29 – Welcome to summer undergraduate researchers Mizrain Ramirez and Keyser Agueda Lopez from North Carolina Central University! 

Feb 16 – Erica’s new paper in Langmuir published as ASAP: Polyamine/nucleotide coacervates provide strong compartmentalization of Mg2+, nucleotides, and RNA  

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Feb 3 – Charlie Crowe presents his second year seminar to the department. Nice job, Charlie!

February – Bill’s paper is on the cover of this month’s Nature Chemistry!

Jan 11 – Spring semester classes begin. Prof. Keating is teaching chem 511, “Chemical Nanoscience” this semester.

Dec 21 – Here is the link to the PSU press release on Bill’s paper

Dec 21 – Bill Aumiller’s paper on Phosphoregulation-mediated RNA/peptide complex coacervation as a model for intracellular liquid organelles finally posts online at Nature Chemistry

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Dec 19 – Former group members Drs. Ben Smith, David Cacace, and Dan Dewey were in town! 

Nov 17 – New paper in Biophysical Journal published: Colocalization and Sequential Enzyme Activity in Aqueous Biphasic Systems: Experiments and Modeling 

Nov 16 – First-year student Nicole Famularo officially joins the lab. Welcome, Nicole!

Nov 4 – Greg Mountain presents his second year seminar to the department. Nice job, Greg!

Oct 8 – New paper in Langmuir published as Just Accepted: Aqueous Emulsion Droplets Stabilized by Lipid Vesicles as Microcompartments for Biomimetic Mineralization

Aug 24 – Classes begin for Fall Semester. This semester Prof. Keating is teaching CHEM 448, Surface Chemistry.

Aug 17 – ACS National meeting in Boston; Prof. Keating presents a talk in AGFD session on Complex Coacervation: Principles and Applications entitled, “Biomimetic microcompartmentalization by aqueous phase separation”

Aug 18 – ACS National meeting in Boston; grad student Fatma Pir-Cakmak presents a poster on her clay-stabilized water-in-water Pickering emulsion research 

Aug 19 – ACS National meeting in Boston; Prof. Keating presents a talk in PHYS session on Hydrophobicity, Ion Solvation, and Interfaces entitled, “Reactions in complex biomimetic media"

July 30 – NNIN REU student Nermina Brljak presents her research on nanowire assembly in applied electric fields at the REU/RET symposium

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July 30 – RET program teachers Mark Yeckley, Marty Dombrowski, and Sandy Ranstead present their summer research at the REU/RET symposium

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July 16 – Group picnic at Whipple Dam State Park

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July 8 – Central PA Festival of the Arts begins. 

July 1 – Welcome Nicole Famularo, summer rotation student

June 11 – Bill Aumiller successfully defends his Ph.D. thesis

                   Congratulations, Dr. Aumiller!

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May 15 – New paper in Langmuir published as Just Accepted: Formation and frequency response of two-dimensional nanowire lattices in an applied electric field

April 29 – Dan Dewey successfully defends his Ph.D. thesis

                   Congratulations, Dr. Dewey!

March 19 – David Kirby successfully defends his Ph.D. thesis

                  Congratulations, Dr. Kirby!

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March 17 – Andrew’s departmental seminar!

March 14 – Keating group Alumni Drs. Stacey Dean, Meghan Andes-Koback, Brad Davis, Ben Smith, and James Sioss (L to R in photo) are in town for a visit

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February 17 – Cliff Brangwynne visits from Princeton Chemical And Biological Engineering department and gives a great seminar on Intracellular Phase Transitions and Cell Size

January 12 – Classes begin for Spring Semester. This semester Prof. Keating is teaching CHEM 597A, Chemical Nanoscience.

November 24 – Chris Keating named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

November 19 – Welcome new first-year graduate students to the lab: Charlie Crowe, Philip Donahue, and Greg Mountain!

October 29 – Ally’s departmental seminar!

September 5 – New paper in ParticleSelf-assembled binary mixtures of partially etched nanowires.

August 25 – First day of classes in Fall semester.  Prof. Keating is teaching CHEM 488, Surface Chemistry, this semester.

August 20 – New paper in J. Phys. Chem. B published as Just Accepted: Interactions of macromolecular crowding agents and cosolutes with small molecule substrates: Effect on horseradish peroxidase activity with two different substrates.

August 20 – New paper in Nature Communications: Bioreactor droplets from liposome-stabilized all-aqueous emulsions

July 31 – REU student end of summer talks and posters - great job, Jiovanna, Kimberly and Robyn!

July 29 – Lab Cleanup Day

July 28 – Brad Davis successfully defends his PhD Thesis

               Congratulations, Dr. Davis!!

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July 3 – Collaborator Sheref Mansy visits from U Trento, Italy, and presents a great talk on"Integrating artificial with natural cells"

June 22 – Chris visits Dr. German Rivas and his research group  in Madrid at the CIB Cellular and Molecular Biology Department and presents a lecture, “Polymer solutions as a model cytoplasm in primitive artificial cells.”

June 14 – Chris travels to Italy to attend Biointerfaces GRC, where she chairs session on Synthetic Cells in which Profs. Luisi and Bayley present excellent lectures

May 27 – REU students arrive!  Welcome to Jiovanna Hermosillo (California State University Channel Island), Robyn Emery (Northwest University), and Kimberly Guzman Betancourt (University of Puerto Rico, Cayey)

May 11 – Drs. Liddell & Cacace return to PSU for the graduation ceremony

May 8 – New paper in Langmuir: Aqueous multi-phase systems within water-in-oil emulsion droplets for the construction of genetically encoded cellular mimics

May 3– New paper in Nano Research: Oxide-on-graphene field effect transistors. 

February 21 – Kristi Liddell successfully defends her Ph.D. Thesis

                    Congratulations, Dr. Liddell!!

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February 11 – New paper on sequential reactions in complex media with collaborators in Armaou and Maranas groups appears as "just accepted" in Journal of Physical Chemistry B!

January 30 – Christopher Strulson successfully defends his Ph.D. Thesis
                    Congratulations, Dr. Strulson!!

January 13 – First day of class, Spring Semester 2014.  Prof. Keating is teaching CHEM 597A, "Chemical Nanoscience" this semester.

               Spri© Chris Keating 2013