Pearsall Distinguished Lecture: Mechanics of Soft Composites - The Interplay Between Geometrical Structuring and Large Deformation to Achieve Novel Behavior, Dean Mary Boyce

Mar 29

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016 – 3:30PM to 5:00PM

Dean Mary Boyce


Dean Mary C. Boyce - The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University

Mary C. Boyce (NAE) is Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University in the City of New York and the Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor of Engineering. Prior to joining Columbia, she served on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over 25 years, leading the Mechanical Engineering Department from 2008 to 2013. She has mentored more than 40 M.S. thesis students and 25 Ph.D. students. Widely recognized for her scholarly contributions to the field, she has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering. She leads the education and research mission of Columbia Engineering with more than 185 faculty, 1500 undergraduate students, 3100 graduate students, and 100 postdoctoral fellows. She is committed to facilitating and celebrating the creativity and innovation of students and faculty. She has launched a Columbia MakerSpace, created Ignition Grants to support student physical and digital ventures, initiated Columbia Design Challenges, including Confronting the Ebola Crisis and Urban Water, and established the SEAS Senior Design Expo. She also has inaugurated SEAS participation in the Columbia Startup Lab, and expanded entrepreneurship programming and the Columbia Venture Competition in close partnership with the University’s Columbia Entrepreneurship Initiative. She is a strong advocate for enabling interdisciplinary research collaborations across the School and the University, including extensively transforming research spaces and expanding the faculty body in cross-cutting fields as wide ranging as Data Science, Nano Science, Sensing and Imaging, Sustainability, and Engineering in Medicine. A dedicated engineering educator, she has been honored for her teaching at MIT, where she was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and received the Joseph Henry Keenan Innovation in Undergraduate Education Award. Dean Boyce earned her BS degree in engineering science and mechanics from Virginia Tech, and her MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.


Soft composites offer new avenues for the design and fabrication of materials and devices that exhibit novel properties and functional behavior. Engineering the interplay between the geometrical structuring of constituent materials and the large deformation behavior of the soft matrix enables structural transformations and tunable properties. Here we explore the mechanics and the design of soft composites through analytical and numerical modeling as well as through experiments on physical prototypes fabricated using multi-material 3D printing. Examples include: layered structures which exhibit deformation-induced transformation of the layered pattern leading to concomitant changes in other attributes to manipulate wave propagation and phononic band gaps; materials with alternating soft/stiff layered structures which provide protective yet flexible armor while also providing a novel material design for soft actuators which transform local compressive loading to large scale rotational motion; and soft matrices augmented by stiff particles which provide deformation-induced morphing surface topologies with engineered surface topologies with the potential to influence a wide range in surface behavior.