Nanoscience Approaches to Heterogeneity in Biological Systems

Friday, January 30, 2015 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Paul S. Weiss

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Materials Science & Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles

Nanoscience Approaches to Heterogeneity in Biological Systems


The great promise of single-molecule/assembly measurements is to understand how critical variations in structure, conformation, and environment relate to and control function. New approaches to imaging and analysis are keys to elucidating these associations. I will discuss current and upcoming advances and will pose the challenges that lie ahead in creating, developing, and applying new tools for biology and medicine. These advances include fusing spectroscopic imaging modalities and freeing up bandwidth in measurements to record simultaneous data streams and to expand our dynamic range. Recent advances in sparsity and compressive sensing can be applied both to new analysis methods and to directing measurements so as to assemble and to converge structural and functional information. Early examples will be discussed.


Weiss is a distinguished professor of chemistry & biochemistry and materials science & engineering at UCLA. He served as the director of the California NanoSystems Institute and held the Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences at UCLA. Before coming to UCLA, he was a distinguished professor of chemistry and physics at Penn State. His interdisciplinary research group includes bioengineers, chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists, mathematicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, and computer scientists. Their work focuses on the ultimate limits of miniaturization, exploring the atomic-scale chemical, physical, optical, mechanical, and electronic properties of surfaces and supramolecular assemblies. They have developed and applied new nanoscale analysis tools to study catalysis, self- and directed assembly, and molecular and nanoscale devices. They advance nanofabrication down to ever smaller scales and greater chemical specificity in order to operate and to test functional molecular assemblies, and to connect these to the biological and chemical worlds. Two major themes in his laboratory are cooperative molecular function and single-molecule biological structural and functional measure-ments. Weiss has been awarded a NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award, Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, and the ACS Award in Colloid & Surface Chemistry, among others. He is a Fellow of the: AAAS, ACS, APS, AVS, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Chinese Chemical Society (foreign/honorary). He is the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Nano where he won the AAP PROSE Award for Best New Journal in Science, Technology, and Medicine, and ISI’s Rising Star Award a record ten times.