Prashant Purohit Receives NSF CAREER AWARD

February 1, 2010

Prashant Purohit, Assistant Professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has received a prestigious NSF CAREER award on his work, "Entropic Elasticity of Fluctuating Filaments and Networks." The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Purohit conducts his research at the interface of mechanics, physics, and biology. Using the Kirchhoff theory of filaments, he is able to describe the behavior of DNA at small length scales, and analyze its implications on the life cycle of viruses and the switching on and off of genes. He studies the effect of thermal fluctuations or entropy, and is also interested in applications of the mechanics of lipid membranes to cellular organelles and the mechanics of material interfaces in slender bodies to micro-scale propulsion.

The research objective of his CAREER project is to combine the finite element method with path integral techniques from statistical mechanics to solve problems in which configurational entropy due to thermal fluctuations plays a significant role. This activity will lead to a better understanding of how mechanical properties of cells and tissues are implicated in diseases. It will also enable design of new biomaterials and possible therapeutic interventions for curing diseases.

To read more about Purohit and his research, please visit his faculty profile.