Keynote Speakers

Molecular Communication Theory: Foundations and Future Perspectives
Date & Time – t.b.d.

Prof. Massimiliano Pierobon, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), NE, USA

Abstract: Molecular communication theory is a discipline in communication systems engineering that studies how information can be encoded and propagated through chemical molecules. The implicit biocompatibility and nanoscale feasibility of molecular communication make it a promising paradigm for engineering the interconnections between embedded computing systems able to not only directly interact with biological processes, but also utilize these same processes as their building blocks, i.e., the Internet of Bio-Nano Things. The first part of this talk will focus on a broad introduction of molecular communication as a research field, together with its initial motivations and landmarks research results at its intersection with biochemistry, with highlights from systems and synthetic biology, neuroscience, and bioinformatics. The second part of the talk will focus on the latest results and open challenges in the characterization of information flow through biological cells, and the engineering of novel communication components able to harness, control, and enhance this flow for future applications ranging from implantable and wearable device networking to the design of communication components in engineered cells.

Bio: Massimiliano Pierobon is an Associate Professor at the School of Computing, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), NE, USA, where he also holds a courtesy appointment at the Department of Biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA, in 2013. He is the co-Editor in Chief of Nano Communication Networks (Elsevier), and an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. Selected honors: 2011 Georgia Tech BWN Lab Researcher of the Year Award, 2013 IEEE Communications Letters Exemplary Reviewer Award, UNL CSE Upper Ugrad and Graduate Level Teaching Award in 2016 and 2017, 2017 IEEE INFOCOM Best Paper Runner-up Award and ACM NanoCom Best Paper Award, and 2019-2020 UNL College of Engineering Excellence in Research Awards. Dr. Pierobon is the PI of multiple NSF and DoD projects and the co-organizer/chair of the NSF Workshop on Biology through Information, Communication & Coding Theory. His research interests are in molecular communication theory, nanonetworks, intra-body networks, information and communication theory applied to synthetic biology, and the Internet of Bio-Nano Things.

Can materials be smart? The fascination of magnetic hybrid materials
Date & Time – t.b.d.

Prof. Stefan Odenbach, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany

Abstract: The term “Smart Materials” has been used for many years both in scientific literature and in the press in general. This raises the question of what is meant by “smart materials”? If one looks at the literature here, it is generally assumed that these are materials whose properties can be altered by external stimuli. The number of possible stimuli is unbelievably large. If one looks at materials whose influence can be technically used, magnetic hybrid materials represent a prototype of the “smart materials” class. These materials, which consist of magnetic nano- or microparticles in a non-magnetic matrix, can be controlled by the effect of magnetic fields. If a simple Newtonian liquid is chosen as the matrix material, ferrofluids or magnetorheological fluids are obtained depending on whether magnetic nanoparticles or microparticles are used. The change in particle size alone leads to significant changes in material behaviour in the magnetic field. While ferrofluids not only allow a change of their properties in the field but also an active magnetic flow control, magnetorheological fluids can be used to set a magnetically induced yield stress, e.g. for technically relevant force transmissions. But the use of magnetic hybrid materials goes far beyond the technical field. With a suitable composition, ferrofluids can be used in the field of biomedicine. In particular, cancer therapy has been the focus of interest for a long time. Here, the magnetic particles can be used, for example, as magnetically controlled transport vehicles for chemotherapeutic agents. A process known as magnetic drug targeting. And at this point we come full circle back to engineering – the flow processes under magnetic field influence that come into play here are a typical problem in fluid mechanics. The talk will include a general introduction to magnetic hybrid materials and a look at the fluid mechanics investigation of the processes involved in magnetic drug targeting.

Bio: Stefan Odenbach is professor of Magnetofluiddynamics, measuring and automation technology at the TU Dresden. He received his PhD in physics with a topic on magnetic fluids from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. After a PostDoc phase at BUGH Wuppertal, he became head of the Complex Fluids Department at ZARM at the University of Bremen. He was speaker of a collaborative research center on Magnetofluiddynamics and speaker of two DFG priority programs on magnetic hybrid materials. His research focuses on complex fluids, especially magnetic hybrid materials, and experimental fluid mechanics and metrology.

Tutorial Speakers

Theory-based Design and Control of Biomolecular Circuits and Communication Systems
Date & Time – t.b.d.

Prof. Yutaka Hori, Keio University, Japan

Abstract: Recent advancements in synthetic biology have enabled the bottom-up design of biomolecular reaction networks. This has opened up an opportunity to build chemically-driven circuits and systems that perform sensing, actuation, and information processing based on programmed biomolecular reactions and will eventually lead to the engineering of chemically-driven cell-like molecular robots that cooperatively work together to achieve complex tasks. In this talk, I will first review the basic concepts of biomolecular circuits and communication systems and introduce various modeling frameworks for the analysis and design of the spatio-temporal dynamics of such systems. Examples of experimentally engineered circuit components are then demonstrated. In particular, I will discuss how one can combine tools in feedback control theory and mathematical optimization with experimental testbeds such as microfluidic devices to help accelerate the engineering process of synthetic biomolecular systems.

Bio: Yutaka Hori received the B.S degree in engineering, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in information science and technology from the University of Tokyo in 2008, 2010 and 2013, respectively. He held a postdoctoral appointment at California Institute of Technology from 2013 to 2016. In 2016, he joined Keio University, where he is currently an associate professor. His research interests lie in feedback control theory and its applications to synthetic biomolecular systems. He is a recipient of Takeda Best Paper Award from SICE in 2015, and Best Paper Award at Asian Control Conference in 2011, and is a Finalist of Best Student Paper Award at IEEE Multi-Conference on Systems and Control in 2010. He has been serving as an associate editor of the Conference Editorial Board of IEEE Control Systems Society. He is a member of IEEE, SICE, and ISCIE.