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Monica Olvera de la Cruz


Ph.D. Physics, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England


Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Chemistry and (by courtesy) Physics and Astronomy and Chemical and Biological Engineering

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP)

Research Interests

Olvera de la Cruz develops theoretical models to determine the conformation, organization and dynamics of macromolecules in complex environments including multicomponent solutions of heterogeneous synthetic and biological molecules, and molecular electrolytes. Her group design functional nano-structured materials by developing algorithms to describe the organization of amphiphiles, copolymers and polyelectrolytes into fibers, gels, membranes and crystals. They analyze interfaces in complex fluids and identify their relevance to biology and to biomimetic functions.  

Selected Publications

  • A. Aggarwal, E. Kirkinis, M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Thermocapillary migrating odd viscous droplets” Phys. Rev. Lett. 131, 198201 (2023); DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.131.198201
  • F. Jimenez-Angeles, A. Ehlen, and Monica Olvera de la Cruz, “Surface polarization enhances ionic transport and correlations in electrolyte solutions nanoconfined by conductors” Faraday Discuss. 246, 576-591 (2023);  DOI:10.1039/D3FD00028A
  • C. Waltmann, C. E. Mills, J. Wang, B. Qiao, J. M. Torkelson, D. Tullman-Ercekb, and M. Olvera de la Cruz "Functional Enzyme-Polymer Complexes" PNAS 119 (13), e2119509119 (2022); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2119509119
  • D. P. Erdosy, M. B. Wenny, J. Cho, C. DelRe, M. V. Walter, F. Jimenez-Angeles, B. Qiao, R. Sanchez, Y. Peng, B. D. Polizzotti, M. Olvera de la Cruz, J. A. Mason, "Microporous Water with High Gas Solubilities" Nature 608, 712-718 (2022); DOI:10.1038/s41586-022-05029-w.
  • C. E. Mills, C. Waltmann, A. G. Archer, N. W. Kennedy, C. H. Abrahamson, A. D. Jackson, E. W. Roth, S. Shirman, M. C. Jewett, N. M. Mangan, M. Olvera de la Cruz, D. Tullman-Ercek “Vertex protein PduN tunes encapsulated pathway performance by dictating bacterial metabolosome morphology” Nature Communications 13, 3746  (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-31279-3
  • A. Ehlen, H. Lopez-Rios, M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Metallization of Colloidal Crystals” Phys. Rev. Mater. 5 (11), 115601 (2021); DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.5.115601
  • Y. Li, N.W. Kennedy, S. Li, C.E. Mills, D. Tullman-Ercek, M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Computational and experimental approaches to controlling bacterial microcompartment assembly” ACS Central Science 7, 4, 658–670 (2021); DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.0c01699
  • S. Li, D. A. Matoz-Fernandez, A. Aggarwal, and M. Olvera de la Cruz  “Chemically controlled pattern formation in self-oscillating elastic shells” PNAS 118 (10), e2025717118 (2021); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2025717118 PMID: 33649242
  • F. Jimenez-Angeles, K. Harmon, T.D. Nguyen, P. Fenter, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Non-Reciprocal Interactions Induced by Water in Confinement” Physical Review Research 2, 043244 (2020); DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevResearch.2.043244
  • B. Qiao and M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Enhanced Binding of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein to Receptor by Distal Polybasic Cleavage Sites” ACS Nano 14, 10616–10623 (2020); DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c04798
  • B. Ma, T. D. Nguyen, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Control of Ionic Mobility via Charge Size Asymmetry in Random Ionomers”  NanoLetters 20, 43-49 (2020); DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b02743
  • C. Gao, S. Kewalramani, D. M. Valencia, H. Li, J. M. McCourt, M. Olvera de la Cruz, and M. J. Bedzyk “Electrostatic shape control of a charged molecular membrane from ribbon to scroll” PNAS 116 (44) 22030-22036  (2019); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913632116.
  • M. Girard, S. Wang, J. S. Du, A. Das, Z. Huang, V. P. Dravid, B. Lee, C. A. Mirkin, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Particle analogs of electrons in colloidal crystals" Science 364, 1174-1178 (2019); DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8237.
  • F. Jimenez-Angeles, H. Kwon, K. Sadman, T. Wu, K. R. Shull, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, “Self-assembly of Charge-Containing Copolymers at the liquid-liquid Interface” ACS Central Science 5, 688-699 (2019); DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.9b00084.


Significant Recognition

  • National Institutes of Health FIRST Award, 1988–93
  • David and Lucille Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, 1989–94
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 1990–92
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1990–95
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2001
  • Engineering and Applied Sciences Cozzarelli Prize, Proceeding of the National Academies, National Academies, 2007
  • 2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
  • 2010-2015 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship
  • 2012 Elected member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013 Distinguished Lecturer, Mathematical Physical Sciences Directorate, National Science Foundation
  • 2015 Miller Institute Visiting Professor
  • 2017 Polymer Physics Prize, American Physical Society
  • 2020 Member, American Philosophical Society
  • 2023 Mulliken Medal, University of Chicago
  • 2023-2024 William H. Schwarz Lecturer, John Hopkins University

Significant Professional Service

  • Scientific Member, Commissariat a l’Énergie Atomique (CE-SACLAY), 1995-97
  • Scientific Visitor, Service de Physique Théorique, CE-SACLAY, France, 2003
  • Baetjer Lecturer, Princeton University, 2005
  • Advisory Committee, NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, 2005-09
  • Solid State Science Committee, National Research Council, 2006-08
  • Research at the Intersection of Physical and Life Sciences Committee, National Research Council, National Academies, 2007-09
  • Editorial Board of Macromolecules, Journal of Polymer Science B: Polymer Physics
  • Vice-chair, Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee, National Research Council, 2008-10
  • Chair, Advisory Committee, NSF Division of Materials Research, 2007-09
  • Member, National Research Council Board of Physics and Astronomy
  • Chair, Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee, National Research Council, 2010-12
  • Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Department of Energy, 2012-2022
  • Senior Editor, ACS Central Science, American Chemical Society, 2015-2022
  • Gordon Research Conference Board of Trustee, 2019-2027
  • Editorial Board, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021-2023
  • International Scientific Committee, Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielle de la ville de Paris (ESPCI Paris), 2020-2026
  • International Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Physics, Mainz, Germany, 2015-2024