Department Calendar of Events

LLE: Assessing Exposures and Health Effects of Particle Radioactivity: An Emerging Research Field (Petros Koutrakis, Harvard University) @ Sandford Fleming Building, Room 1105
Oct 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Petros Koutrakis, Harvard University

Host: Prof. Jeffrey Brook

The recent Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study estimated that long-term exposure to fine particulates (PM2.5) caused 9 million deaths worldwide in 2019, making it the fourth-ranked global risk factor for that year. The PM properties responsible for its toxicity are still not fully understood. Recently, we found that radon (Rn) exposure is associated with mortality in the Northeastern U.S., and we have reported associations between PM gross β-activity and blood pressure, oxidative stress, and lung and cardiac function. A large fraction of the total exposure to naturally occurring ionizing radiation is through inhalation of ambient particles carrying attached radionuclides. The primary source of this PM radioactivity (PR) is Radon (Rn) gas through its decay products. Rn emanates from the soil and enters the atmosphere, including indoor air, where it decays. The resulting radionuclides attach to inhalable PM, which deposit in the lungs and continue to release ionizing radiation (α-, β- and γ-radiation) causing pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress. To date, most previous environmental radiation studies have focused on the cancer effects of Rn progeny, therefore, there are significant knowledge gaps regarding the non-cancer effects of radon and PR. Our recent research has demonstrated that these non-cancer effects are, in fact, very important. Specifically, we have generated new information showing that exposures to Rn as well as PM gross α-, β- and γ-activities are associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, including blood pressure, oxidative stress, cardiac, lung and liver function, gestational diabetes and hypertension, and total and cardiopulmonary mortality.

These observations provide strong scientific evidence for our hypothesis that inhaled Rn progeny and other radionuclides, measured as PR, can have direct health effects through stimulation of inflammatory and oxidative processes. Therefore, assessing exposures and effects of PR may be of paramount importance to understanding of particle toxicity. During my presentations I will summarize many PR studies regarding measurement methods, sources, relationships between indoor and outdoor levels and, toxicity assays. Also, I will present results from cohort studies examining a large spectrum of health outcomes and population mortality studies. Finally, I will discuss research needs to advance this emerging research area.


Petros Koutrakis has over 35 years of experience in environmental health sciences. His interests include human exposure assessment, ambient and indoor air pollution, environmental analytical chemistry, remote sensing, and environmental radioactivity. His research career has focused on studying exposure methods, developing sampling techniques for gaseous and particulate air pollutants, and studying the effects of air pollution on human health. His research group has conducted a large number of ambient and indoor air quality studies in the U.S. and abroad. These studies made it possible to identify and quantify the sources contributing to ambient, micro-environmental and indoor exposures. Finally, these investigations significantly advanced scientific knowledge of associations between exposures and health outcomes and made important contributions to assessments of the impacts of air pollution on human health in different populations.


View the complete 2023-24 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Re-imagining Manufacturing: Building a Circular Gas Fermentation Industry (Michael Koepke, LanzaTech) @ Sandford Fleming Building, Room 1105
Nov 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Michael Koepke, LanzaTech

Host: Prof. Christopher Lawson

The accelerating climate crisis combined with rapid population growth poses some of the most urgent challenges to humankind, all linked to the unabated release and accumulation of CO2 and waste across the biosphere. Rapid action is needed to drastically reduce waste carbon emissions. By harnessing our capacity to partner with biology, we can begin to take advantage of the abundance of available CO2 and waste carbon streams to transform the way the world creates and uses carbon and enable a circular economy.

LanzaTech’s mission is to create a post-pollution future where waste carbon is the building block from which everything is made and since inception in 2005 has pioneered the development of a gas fermentation for carbon-negative biomanufacturing. Gas fermentation using carbon-fixing microorganisms is a fully commercial carbon recycling process technology that transforms above-ground sustainable and waste carbon resources into fuels, chemicals, materials and nutritional products at a scale that can be truly impactful in mitigating the climate crisis. LanzaTech’s technology is like retrofitting a brewery onto an emission source like a steel mill or a landfill site, but instead of using sugars and yeast to make beer, pollution is converted by bacteria to fuels and chemicals. The technology offers an industrial approach to both enable manufacturing at its current scale, and achieve sustainability targets.

Compared to other gas-to-liquid processes, gas fermentation offers unique feedstock and product flexibility. The process can handle a diverse range of high volume, low-cost feedstocks. These include industrial emissions (e.g., steel mills, processing plants or refineries) or syngas generated from any resource (e.g., unsorted, and non-recyclable municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, or organic industrial waste), as well as CO2 with green hydrogen.

Only 15 years ago, carbon-fixing microbes were poorly understood and considered to be genetically inaccessible and gas mass-transfer seen as major hurdle. To unlock this biology for industrial use, LanzaTech has developed a state-of-the-art Synthetic Biology and AI platform as well as advanced bioprocessing and bioreactor technology. Today, LanzaTech has 3 commercial plants in operation, >500 chemical pathways designed and >300,000 tons of CO2 mitigated. This lecture will provide an insight into the LanzaTech journey from scrappy start-up to global technology leader through the commercialization of its gas fermentation process as a platform, and give a perspective on the future for the industry at large.


Dr. Michael Köpke is the Chief Innovation Officer at LanzaTech ($LNZA), a public company that uses biology to capture and transform carbon into sustainable products. Michael is a pioneer in synthetic biology of CO2-fixing microbes and carbon-negative biomanufacturing with 20 years of experience in the industrial biotech field. Since joining LanzaTech in 2009, Michael built up the company’s synthetic biology and computational biology capabilities and is responsible for LanzaTech’s innovation platform and technology partnerships.

Michael holds a Ph.D. in biotechnology from University of Ulm and is an inventor of over 500 patents and author of more than 50 peer-reviewed publications. Michael is also an awardee of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award for Greener Synthetic Pathways by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition to his role at LanzaTech, Michael also serves as an adjunct faculty position at Northwestern University and as council member at the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). At EBRC, Michael chairs the roadmapping working group and led the development of a technical roadmap on synthetic biology solutions for climate and sustainability as part of a group of over 90 scientists and other experts. Michael also serves on several editorial or scientific boards and chaired several workshops and international conferences.


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Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Dynamic Operating Schema for Resilient, Affordable, Decarbonized Water Systems (Meagan Mauter, Stanford University) @ Online via Zoom
Dec 6 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Meagan Mauter, Stanford University

Host: Prof. Frank Gu

Dynamic operating schema for unit processes, treatment trains, and water systems are critical for accommodating non-steady-state system inputs and water resource demands. This applies equally to small-scale treatment units with fluctuating water production volumes and quality, large desalination plants encountering energy costs that vary as much as 10X over hourly and seasonal time scales, and entire water systems that are subject to multi-year droughts of varying intensity, persistence, and duration.  This talk will discuss the paradigm shift from steady state to dynamic system operation over multiple time domains and the resulting demands this shift places on membrane-based water treatment technologies.  The talk will then turn to how to leverage native flexibility in both traditional reverse osmosis (RO) technologies and emerging dynamically operated technologies (e.g., batch RO) for maximal system resiliency.  Finally, this talk will address open research questions critical to characterizing the financial value of flexibility in process, treatment train and system design and motivating an expanded dynamic operational range across these systems.


Professor Meagan Mauter is an Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Global Environmental Policy at Stanford University and Senior Fellow in the Precourt Energy Institute and Woods Institute for the Environment. She directs the Water & Energy Efficiency for the Environment Lab (WE3Lab) with the mission of providing sustainable water supply in a carbon-constrained world.  Ongoing research efforts include: 1) developing desalination technologies to support a circular water economy, 2) coordinating operation of decarbonized water and energy systems, and 3) supporting the design and enforcement of water-energy policies.

Professor Mauter also serves as the research director for the National Alliance for Water Innovation, a $110-million DOE Hub addressing U.S. water security issues. The Hub targets early-stage research and development of energy-efficient and cost-competitive technologies for distributed desalination of non-traditional source waters.

Professor Mauter holds bachelors degrees in Civil & Environmental Engineering and History from Rice University and a PhD in Chemical & Environmental Engineering from Yale University. Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford, she served as an Energy Technology Innovation Policy Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Visiting Scholar at the Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.


View the complete 2023-24 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Building a Sustainable Future through Bio-based Chemicals and Nanomaterials (Ning Yan, University of Toronto) @ WB116
Jan 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Ning Yan, University of Toronto

Host: Prof. Grant Allen

As we move towards UN Sustainable Development Goals, there is a growing interest to produce chemicals and materials from renewable feedstock to lower our reliance on fossil fuels. Over the years, my research team has developed a portfolio of bio-based chemicals and industrial materials using natural polymers as the building block. By taking advantage of some distinctive properties of cellulose, lignin, starch, and other plant-based biomolecules, we have designed and engineered bio-based resins, adhesives, polyols, foams, and composites suited for applications in automotive, construction, packaging, energy storage, and wearable electronics. By integrating dynamic bonds in the molecular structure, we have achieved designed close-loop recyclability of various bio-based covalent adaptable network (CAN) materials using starch, chitosan, and lignin as precursors. This new class of self-healing, recyclable, and reprocessable bio-based vitrimer materials can help extend product service life, reduce landfill plastic wastes, and realize the circular economy concept. An overview of some latest findings from our research activities will be presented.


Professor Ning Yan holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Bioproducts at the University of Toronto. She has also held a University of Toronto Distinguished Professorship in Forest Biomaterials Engineering and an Endowed Chair in Value Added Wood and Composites previously. Professor Yan is an internationally renowned expert in bio-based materials, green chemistry, and biopolymer science with more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals. She is currently an associate editor of ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering journal. Professor Yan obtained her PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1997 and joined the University of Toronto as a faculty member in 2001 after working for various companies in Canada and United States. She is an elected Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS), and the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE).


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Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Engineering High-Precision, Dynamic Genetic Control Systems for Cellular Reprogramming (Katie Galloway, MIT) @ WB116
Jan 31 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Katie Galloway, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Host: Prof. Nicole Weckman

Integrating synthetic circuitry into larger transcriptional networks to mediate predictable cellular behaviors remains a challenge within synthetic biology. In particular, the stochastic nature of transcription makes coordinating expression across multiple genetic elements difficult. Further, delivery of large genetic cargoes limits the efficiency of cellular engineering. Thus, our work is focused on the design of highly-compact genetic tools with a minimal genomic footprint. Co-localization of multiple transcriptional units provides a simple method of compact design. However, co-localization introduces the potential for physical coupling between transcriptional units. To address this challenge, we recently developed a theoretical framework for exploring how DNA supercoils—dynamic structures induced during transcription—influence transcription and gene expression in synthetic and native gene systems. Using this model, we find that DNA supercoiling strongly influences the profile of gene expression and that influence is defined by syntax—the relative orientation and position of genetic elements—and the enclosing boundary conditions. In exploring both synthetic and native gene regulatory networks, we find that supercoiling-mediated feedback changes the behaviors accessible to control and supports (or inhibits) the function of transcriptional networks. Importantly, we have recently confirmed several predictions from this model experimentally and used this model to design circuits with massively improved performance in primary cells. Our results suggest that supercoiling couples behavior between neighboring genes, representing a novel regulatory mechanism. Additionally, our predictions suggest why some circuit designs fail and provide a path to improving transgenic designs. Harnessing the insights from our model will enable enhanced transcriptional control, providing a robust method to tune expression levels, dynamics, and noise needed for the construction of transgenic systems for diverse cell engineering applications including cellular reprogramming.


Katie Galloway is the W. M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research focuses on elucidating the fundamental principles of integrating synthetic circuitry to drive cellular behaviors. Her lab focuses on developing integrated gene circuits and elucidating the systems level principles that govern complex cellular behaviors. Her team lever ages synthetic biology to transform how we understand cellular transitions and engineer cellular therapies. Galloway earned a PhD and an MS in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a BS in Chemical Engineering from University of California at Berkeley. She completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Southern California. Her research has been featured in Science, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Systems, and Development. She has won multiple fellowships and awards including the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Rising Star, Princeton’s CBE Saville Lecture Award, NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, the NIH F32, and Caltech’s Everhart Award.


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Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Translating Metal-Organic Framework Research from Lab to Industrial Applications (George Shimizu, University of Calgary) @ WB116
Feb 7 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

George Shimizu, University of Calgary

Host: Prof. Mohamad Moosavi

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are transcending from fundamental to applied research, but their use in a large-scale process has not yet been realized. For many industrial uses, MOFs face a challenge of economical performance in a durable, scalable material implementable in an appropriate engineered form. This presentation will deal with three short stories spanning our efforts to design new porous solids while keeping an eye on real-world applications.

The first story concerns the use of MOFs as proton conductors. MOFs offer tunable structures capable of being loaded with protic carrier molecules. Key challenges were initially to enhance stability and levels of proton conduction. Numerous promising examples exist now and a higher technology challenge is the formation of high-performing membranes. Some of our recent work on making high-loaded MOF membranes based on cellulosic composites will be presented.

The second part will deal with a new approach to make MOFs. MOFs typically rely on a reticular (net-based) approach where metal and organic linkers define a topology and pore sizes. We have developed a new route to MOFs where the guest molecules can play a much greater role in structure determination – rather than simply filling the void, determining its structure. This approach relies on robust H-bonded intermediates. Results on the use of this approach for xylene isomer separation will be presented.

Finally, MOFs can be used like a sponge to trap selected gases and release them under some external stimulus (e.g., pressure drop, temperature increase). Such an approach has been challenging for post-combustion carbon capture owing to the presence of water and acid gases in the stream. CO2. We have developed a solid that has moved up the technology ladder, with different academic and industrial partners, to actually be capturing CO2 industrially at 25 tonnes per day scale. This talk will discuss some of the basic science and also the hurdles to translate from milligrams to industrial demonstration including the key aspect of being able to physisorb CO2 in the presence of water.


George Shimizu completed a Ph.D. (Inorganic Chemistry) at the University of Windsor with Steve Loeb. This was followed by an NSERC postdoctoral position with Fraser Stoddart (Supramolecular Chemistry) at the University of Birmingham and an NSERC Visiting Fellow/Associate Research Officer position with John Ripmeester and Dan Wayner (Functional Materials) at the National Research Council. In 1998, Shimizu moved to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary. Currently, he is a Full Professor and his research concerns novel inorganic-organic materials, mainly metal-organic frameworks.

All group research begins at a very fundamental level, but it is application-directed, and we strive to translate basic science to demonstration. Most work falls in the fields of gas separation with solid sorbents and proton conductors. Three startup companies have emerged from the group’s MOF research. George has received the Strem (2008) and Rio Tinto (2019) Awards for Inorganic Chemistry from the Chemical Institute of Canada and the Alberta Science and Technology Leadership Foundation Award for Energy and Environment Innovation (2021).


View the complete 2023-24 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Revolutionizing Drug Delivery Technology: The Power of AI and Automation (Christine Allen, University of Toronto) @ WB116
Mar 6 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Christine Allen, University of Toronto

Host: Prof. Milica Radisic


The formulation of therapeutic agents in advanced drug delivery systems such as nanoparticles and microparticles can significantly improve their safety and efficacy. However, the design and development of advanced formulations remains expensive, labour-intensive and time consuming with a heavy reliance on the expertise of the formulation development team and composition of formulations that have been approved to date. In the design of these systems, there are a plethora of parameters that must be considered in relation to the drug, material(s) or excipient(s) as well as processing variables. Experimental evaluation of every combination is intractable and at this time it is not possible to predict the performance of specific formulations a priori. As a result, it is likely that some of the formulation candidates that have moved forward to clinical development are not optimal but rather the best that could be achieved with the time and resources available.

Machine learning (ML) has led to significant advances in various fields, such as drug discovery and materials science. In recent years, we have explored integration of ML to discern the relationships between composition, property and performance with a goal towards fast-tracking innovative drug formulation development.  In this work, we have identified a lack of robust datasets in the published literature to apply data-driven methods. This has led us to consider strategies such as experimental automation, and more recently to the concept of a materials acceleration platform (MAP), or self-driving laboratory (SDL), that combines automated experimentation with ML-guided experiment planning for the design of advanced drug delivery systems. The integration of such technological advancements in the pharmaceutical sciences has the potential to fast-track preclinical research, improve efficiency in drug development pipelines and thus improve patient access to effective medicines.


Dr. Christine Allen is a full Professor at the University of Toronto and internationally recognized leader in drug formulation and development with more than 160 publications. She has received numerous career awards and is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, Controlled Release Society (CRS), and the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences (CSPS). She has held senior leadership roles including President of CRS (2022 – 2023), President of CSPS (2020 – 2022), Vice-President Ecosystem Development at adMare Bioinnovations (2022 – 2023), Associate Vice-President and Vice Provost Strategic Initiatives at UofT (2019 – 2022) and Interim Dean, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy (2018 – 2019). She is the co-founder and CEO of a start-up that is transforming pharmaceutical drug development through integration of AI, automation and advanced computing. She is committed to promoting and actioning equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in research and innovation.


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Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Efficient Assessment: Getting More Value With Less Effort (Peter Ostafichuk, University of British Columbia) @ WB116
Mar 20 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Peter Ostafichuk, University of British Columbia

Host: Prof. Jennifer Farmer

Assessment is widely viewed as an integral part of teaching and learning. More than a means to benchmark student performance, effective assessment is a powerful learning activity. In addition, well-constructed assessments allow students to monitor their learning progress and adapt; provide instructors with insights on student development and teaching effectiveness; and help units to evaluate program outcomes as part of continual improvement or accreditation. At the same time, trying to deliver effective assessments in large (and growing) classes with fixed (and often diminishing) resources can be challenging. This talk will explore assessment approaches that address the multiple aforementioned goals while reducing time and resources requirements and allowing scalability to classes of almost any size.  Grounded in fundamental principles of effective assessment, multiple evidence-based examples will be featured, including collaborative in-class testing techniques; comparative evaluation and multi-stage peer assessment; and meaningful auto-graded questions suitable for exams and online homework.


Dr. Peter Ostafichuk is a Professor of Teaching and the Chair of First Year Engineering at the University of British Columbia.  He is the Past President of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA-ACÉG) and leads the national Institute for Engineering Teaching.  With over twenty years of experience, Dr. Ostafichuk has delivered courses from first year to graduate level, across multiple subject areas, and in class sizes ranging from 10 to 1000 students. He has authored multiple books related to education and engineering, and he is a recipient of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, the Engineers Canada Medal of Distinction, the Wighton Fellowship, and many other accolades.
View the complete 2023-24 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

LLE: Next Generation Membranes through Polymer Self-Assembly (Ayse Asatekin, Tufts University) @ WB116
Apr 3 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Ayse Asatekin, Tufts University

Host: Prof. Jay Werber

Membranes offer a highly energy-efficient, simple to operate, scalable and portable separation method for many applications, from water treatment to oil and gas processing to pharmaceutical manufacturing. Yet, their broader use is often limited by insufficient selectivity and/or fouling with complex feeds. There are no commercial membranes that can separate small molecules of similar size in the liquid phase based on their chemical properties. We aim to develop new synthetic polymer membranes that accomplish this by self-assemble and create structures that mimic key features of biological pores like ion channels and porins: Constricted pores <5 nm in diameter that confine permeation, lined with functional groups that interact with the target during passage. Our first approach utilized the self-assembly of zwitterionic amphiphilic copolymers (ZACs), synthesized from a hydrophobic and a zwitterionic monomer. When ZACs are coated onto a support to form a thin film composite (TFC) membrane, self-assembled zwitterionic domains act as a network of nanochannels for water permeation. Our first ZAC-based thin film composite (TFC) membranes were size-selective with an effective pore size of ~1.3-1.5 nm. These membranes are exceptionally fouling resistant. We then developed cross-linkable ZACs (X-ZACs), which enabled us to access smaller effective pore sizes, down to ~0.9 nm, where ion separations are possible. Our membranes with the smallest pore sizes exhibited unprecedented selectivity between equally charged anions, including the highest Cl/F selectivity in the literature. This selectivity arises from zwitterion-ion interactions, which affect both ion partitioning and ion diffusivity, further emphasized through nanoconfinement. This opens the door to novel membranes with novel selectivity between molecules and ions of similar size and charge, mediated through channel-solute interactions. More recently, we have been exploring new avenues to prepare membranes the self-assembled nanopores and fouling resistance of ZAC-based membranes, but expand the range of separations accessible. We have developed amphiphilic polyampholytes (APAs), where hydrophobic, anionic, and cationic monomers form a random/statistical terpolymer that is insoluble in water. This approach allows access to a very broad array of functional groups lining the effective nanopores of these membranes, opening the door for complex separations. Alternatively, we have formed amphiphilic polyelectrolyte complex (APEC) membranes by coating consecutive layers of two amphiphilic polyelectrolytes (i.e. water-insoluble copolymers combining a hydrophobic monomer with either an anionic or a cationic monomer). Interestingly, these bilayer membranes exhibit very small effective pore sizes as well as higher permeances, implying selectivity arises from the formation of polyelectrolyte complexes at a thin interface between these layers. These approaches demonstrate a versatile and highly customizable approach for developing novel high-performance membranes.


Ayse Asatekin is an associate professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Tufts University, and Steve and Kristen Remondi Faculty Fellow. She received bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in chemical engineering through the Program in Polymer Science and Technology (PPST) at MIT. She pursued her post-doctoral work with Prof. Karen K. Gleason, also at MIT. She co-founded Clean Membranes, Inc., a start-up company that commercialized a membrane technology that she began developing during her doctoral research, and worked as its Principal Scientist before joining the Tufts faculty in 2012. Novel membrane technologies developed in her lab are currently being commercialized by ZwitterCo, Inc., where she serves as the Senior Scientific Advisor. She is a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors, and the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, Massachusetts Clean Energy Council’s Catalyst Award, and the Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Young Scholar Award. Her research interests are in developing novel membranes for clean water and energy-efficient separations through polymer self-assembly. She is also interested in multi-functional membranes, controlling surface chemistry for biomedical applications, polymer science, and energy storage.


View the complete 2023-24 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Michael Martino, External Relations Liaison (

Book Launch for LIT: Life Ignition Tools by Jeff Karp @ University of Toronto Bookstore
May 2 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm


Join author Jeff Karp to celebrate the launch of his much-anticipated new book, LIT: Life Ignition Tools. The event will feature a conversation between Jeff Karp and University of Toronto Professor Dr. Milicia Radisic, followed by a reading, Q&A, and signing.

About the Speakers

Jeff Karp, PhD, is an acclaimed mentor and biomedical engineering professor at Harvard Medical School and MIT, a Distinguished Chair at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He has dedicated his research to bioinspired medical problem-solving, and his lab’s technologies have led to the formation of twelve companies. The technologies they have developed include a tissue glue that can seal holes inside a beating heart; targeted therapy for osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease, and brain disorders; “smart needles” that automatically stop when they reach their target; a nasal spray that neutralizes pathogens; and immunotherapy approaches to annihilate cancer. Dr. Karp is also head of innovation at Geoversity, Nature’s University, a rainforest conservancy located in one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world. He was selected as the Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Mentor among all faculty at MIT and the top graduate student mentor of Harvard-MIT students. Dr. Karp lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, children, and two Cavalier King Charles spaniels.

Dr. Milica Radisic is a Professor at the University of Toronto, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Organ-on-a-Chip Engineering and a Senior Scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute. She is also Director of the NSERC CREATE Training Program in Organ-on-a-Chip Engineering & Entrepreneurship and a co-lead for the Center for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada-Academy of Science, Canadian Academy of Engineering, the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering, Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine Society as well as Biomedical Engineering Society. Her impressive accolades include being recognized in the MIT Technology Review Top 35 Under 35, as well as receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, NSERC E.W.R Steacie Fellowship, YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, Killam Fellowship, Acta Biomaterialia Silver Medal, and Humboldt Research Award to name a few. Her research focuses on organ-on-a-chip engineering and development of new biomaterials that promote healing and attenuate scarring.

About LIT: Life Ignition Tools

In the age of convenience, information overload, and endless exposure to stimuli, it’s easy to trudge through the motions of life, pressured, distracted, and seeking instant gratification. When this way of living becomes the norm, it can immobilize us, making it feel impossible to reclaim control of our lives with intention and enthusiasm.

In LIT (William Morrow; April 9, 2024), Harvard Medical School professor, Mass General Brigham and MIT researcher, and renowned bioinspirationalist Jeff Karp, PhD, teaches us to harness the vital wisdom and power of nature to place us into a lit state. Lit is a life magnifier, a heightened state of awareness that drives curiosity, connection, and energy. In short: being lit takes us off autopilot and helps us stay alert, present, and fully engaged.

Diagnosed with learning differences and ADHD at a young age, Karp persisted through nearly insurmountable struggles. After discovering that he could think about thinking at age seven, he became his own science experiment, tapping into the lit state through trial and error to achieve hyper-awareness and explore his curiosity, creativity, and connection to nature. Decades later, as a biotech innovator, husband, and father, lit continues to encourage opportunities for innovation in his professional and personal lives.

He has honed those methods into a diverse toolkit that he calls Life Ignition Tools (LIT), which help us:

  • Break out of habitual thinking to discover our own imaginative power.
  • Stimulate creativity and excitement at work.
  • Integrate our spiritual and personal lives to repair and deepen our relationships.
  • Navigate multiple streams of sensory input and manage information overload.

Lit has inspired Dr. Karp’s innovative medical discoveries such as surgical glue inspired by slugs, a diagnostic for cancer based on the tentacles of jellyfish, and surgical staples based on the quills of a porcupine – but you don’t have to be a scientist to live lit. Anyone can use these principles to redirect their lives with energy, focus, creativity, and motivation to create the lives they truly want to lead.