Anna C. Balazs

University of Pittsburgh


Primary Section: 31, Engineering Sciences
Secondary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member (elected 2021)

Biosketch

Anna C. Balazs is recognized for her work on developing computational models for hybrid materials and soft matter. She is particularly known for using these models to design and predict the behavior of polymer nanocomposites and bio-inspired materials, including communicating microcapsules that mimic the behavior of social insects, gels undergoing chemo-mechanical transduction and self-propelled, shape-changing sheets in solution. Currently, she is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and holds the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair in Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Balazs is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society. She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000. Recently, she received the American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize (2016), the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014) and the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013), and is a member of the National Academy of Science.

Research Interests

Anna Balazs’s laboratory is interested in: 1) developing new computational methods that capture the behavior of complex, multi-component systems, 2) using these models to predict new behavior and, 3) designing systems that harness this behavior for technological applications. In carrying out this research, her group examined the properties of materials that involve cooperative interactions among multiple interacting components. For example, her lab uncovered fundamental mechanisms that control the behavior of: polymer/nanoparticle composites, self-healing materials, self-oscillating gels, materials that can “compute”, and self-powered fluidic pumps. Through these studies, her group devised foundational methods to simulate three dimensional shape changes in a range of stimuli-responsive polymer networks, as well as the coupling between catalytic reactions, fluid flow, and deformable materials in confined geometries. These studies are facilitating the creation of self-sustained, chemically-driven microfluidic platforms, fluidic devices that autonomously sort cells, self-regulating polymeric systems, and self-focusing optical devices.

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