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About VSM @ VCU

The Annual Virginia Soft Matter (VSM) Workshop brings together researchers working on the science of soft matter, including but not limited to polymers, complex fluids, biophysics, biomaterials, and granular matter, for an informal meeting to communicate cutting-edge research, exchange ideas and foster collaborations. There will be a mix of invited talks, brief contributed sound bites, and unstructured time.

The first VSM Workshop was held on the campus of James Madison University on February 11, 2014 (organized by Prof. Klebert Feitosa and sponsored by the 4-VA Consortium). The second and third workshops were held at Virginia Tech (2014) and the University of Virginia (2015).

The 4th VSM workshop (current) will be held on the Monroe Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The VSM Workshop will not charge registration fees and will provide free breakfast/coffee-break/lunch.

Date: 29 Oct 2016, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Workshop location:

Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Engineering Auditorium, Engineering West
601 W Main Street, Richmond VA 23284

The current list of registrants of VSM Workshop will be available soon.

The Organizing Committee


Submit Presentation

If you are presenting at the VSM workshop, please submit your presentation materials through the email link below.

Submit Presentation Materials

Sound Bite

Conference participants are invited to present a sound bite on their research during the workshop. In order to do so, please indicate the title of your sound bite on the registration page (no abstract required for sound bites). A 3-4 slide PDF of your sound bite is due to by October 15. More information on the format of the sound bite can be found on the FAQ section.

The 4th Virginia Soft Matter Workshop is sponsored by the Office of the Dean, VCU School of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering and Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at VCU.




October 29th, 2016 Schedule


9:00 AM - 9:10 AM: Welcome Remarks
9:10 AM - 9:55 AM: Dr. Orlin D. Velev - Dynamically Reconfigurable Soft Matter in External Fields
10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
: Soundbite Session 1

  • Ryan Grosenick - Self-Assembly of Artificial Actin-like Filaments
  • Justin Barone - Protein-polymer nanocomposites
  • Christopher Dosier - Alginate Microbead Technology for Delivery of Biologics
  • Ami Jo - Engineering Polymeric Nanoparticles for Diagnostics and Drug Delivery
  • Assad Ullah Khan - Plasmonic Nanoparticles as Sensors to Probe Polymer Brush Formation
  • Yow-Ren Chang - Hindering Bacterial Biofilm Formation Using Surface Topography
  • Jiten Narang - Anisotropic Stiffness Micropillar Arrays Influence Cell Organization, Differentiation and Migration
  • Zach Schuhmacher - Using PDMS to Investigate the Properties of Intrinsic Foot Muscles
  • Shani Levit - Electrospinning to Extend Shelf-Life and Stability of Nanomedicines

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM: Coffee Break
10:45 AM - 11:15 AM: Dr. Alenka Luzar - Molecular Modeling of Surface Wettability by External Stimuli
11:15 AM - 11:45 AM
: Soundbite Session 2

  • Michael K. Salerno - Coarse-Grained Polymer Models for Nanoscience Applications
  • Weizhu Yang - A Novel Porous Structure for Enhanced Energy Absorption Performance
  • Ralph Romero - Crumpling of an Elastic Ring in Two Dimensions
  • Yanfei Tang - Polyelectrolyte Complexes in Solution: A Molecular Dynamics Study
  • Yafei Wang - Numerical Simulation of Colloidal Particle Self-Assembly in an Evaporation Micro-Sized Droplet
  • Qingchang Liu - A Unified Mechanics Model of Wettability Gradient-Driven Motion of Water Droplet on Solid Surfaces
  • Charles E. Smith - Variable "Time Constants" for Simple Quantum Systems
  • Yuan Gao - Mechanically Tunable Thermal Conductivity in Bilayer Heterostructures
  • Mahdi Shafiei - Dynamics of Water Under Electric Field

11:45 AM - 12:15 PMDr. Joseph Robertson - An Anthrax Toxin Biosensor fabricated by integrating pore-forming proteins into electroanalytical interfaces


12:15 PM - 1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM: Dr. Weiwei Deng - Reshape Liquid Jets, Droplets, and Particles with Electric Fields
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM: Soundbite Session 3

  • Karam Almailaji - Superoleophobic Surfaces by Mask-Assisted Electrospray
  • Colin Qi - Solid Dispersion Lithium-Ion Flow Battery
  • Zhengping Zhou - Controlling the Pore Size of Mesoporous Carbon Thin Films through Thermal and Solvent Annealing'
  • Hooman Tafreshi - Modeling Underwater Superhydrophobic Surfaces
  • Geoffrey Geise - Polymer Membrane Research at U.VA
  • Mubashir Ansari - Dual Extrusion Technology for Filament Fabrication Used in Fused Deposition Modeling
  • Maryanne Collinson - The Fabrication of Surface Chemical Gradients and the Importance of the Underlying Base Layer in Defining Gradient Wettability
  • Prajakta Kamerkar - Influence of Relative Humidity on Rheological Characterization of Viscoelastic Soft-Solids

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM: Coffee Break
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM: Dr. Kevin Caram - Colloidal and Antibacterial Activity of Non-Conventional Amphiphiles
3:15 PM - 3:45 PM: Soundbite Session 4

  • Shengfeng Cheng - MACR Program at Virginia Tech
  • Sergei Egorov - Spin Relaxation in Organic Semiconductors
  • Prudhvidhar Gaddam - A Liquid State Thermal Diode
  • William Morris - Quaternary Ammonium-Functionalized PPO Anion Exchange Materials with Variable Alkyl Side Chains
  • Yuanyuan Ji - Specific Ion Effects in Charged Polymer Membranes
  • Nan Yang - Studying Crystalline Morphology and Texture of Small Molecule Organic Semiconductor Thin Films
  • Chester Szwejkowski - Pushing the Limits of Time Domain Thermo Reflectance with Soft Matter
  • Joseph Reiner - Forensic Applications of Single Cell and SIngle Molecule Manipulation
  • Yue Zhang - Liquid Evaporation-Driven Folding of Graphene with Surface Wettability Gradients

3:45 PM - 4:00 PM: Wrap Up

Frequently Asked Questions

Why a Soft Matter Workshop?
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together faculty, students, postdocs, and interested scientists from Virginia and nearby regions for a one-day meeting to network, exchange ideas, and promote the research of soft matter.

What is Soft Matter?
Soft matter encompasses a broad set of materials characterized by being disordered and fragile. Grains, paint, pastes, suspensions, foams, emulsions, gels, vesicle and even cells are examples of such squishy materials. Soft materials often reside at the interface of physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. Thus, understanding, manipulating and creating new soft materials requires an assortment of experimental techniques and expertise from many different fields. In this context conversations with experts from many disciplines have the potential to generate new ideas and results that will lead to fast progress in research.

What is a sound bite and how do I prepare to give one?
A sound bite is a short and concise talk. You should prepare for a presentation of 3 minutes. A time limit will be strictly enforced to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to talk. You should provide a 3-4 slide PDF that will accompany your presentation. To prepare you should keep in mind that you have a very limited time to get a single idea across. You should make sure that everyone knows who you are, what organization you represent, and most importantly, a single straight forward exposition of what you are working on. The sound bite should contain enough information about your research so that people with similar problems and interests know to seek you out during coffee and lunch. You should also prominently display your email and website if you have one. After you register you will receive information about when and where to send your sound bite PDF document.