There is no question that nature is the best engineer. As hard as material scientists try, replicating nature’s intricate processes and networks is a holy grail that often seems nearly unattainable. Instead of attempting to copy nature, some scientists draw inspiration from nature’s mechanisms and apply them to the synthesis of goods for human use. The field of producing materials using design principles from nature is known as bio-inspired material research.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, approximately 20 percent of the world is affected by brain disorders. At MIT, there are a number of groups dedicated to studying brain disorders specifically. Some labs focus on the genetic origins of neurological disorders, while others use imaging to predict and respond to indications of mental health conditions.
After a prolific residence in MIT's Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which included developing a super-resolution microscope to look at nanoscale resolution of building blocks of brain, Deblina Sarkar is seeking out a new challenge in forming the Nano-Cybernetic Biotrek research group to engineer nanoelectronics for the human brain.
Tonio Buonassisi, the PI at MIT’s Photovoltaics Lab, recently took a trip to the Folgefonna National Park in Norway. There, he hiked across nearly 200 square km of glaciers. Under the crunch of snow with each step he took, he could hear the water rushing below him — more water than was normal for the ebbs and flows of a glacier’s natural lifetime — a constant reminder that his time to act was running out.