Biology Professor Cheryl Hayashi to Speak on "Discovering the Strengths and Uses of Spider Silk" at Brookhaven Lab, November 20

Cheryl Hayashi enlarge

Cheryl Hayashi

UPTON, NY — Cheryl Hayashi, a biology professor from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), will give a talk at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at 4:30 p.m., in the Physics Department Large Conference Room, Building 510A. Sponsored by Brookhaven Women in Science, the event is free and open to the public. All visitors to the Laboratory 16 and older must bring a photo I.D. 

By studying the elasticity, tensile strength, genetic structure, and mechanical properties of spider silks, Cheryl Hayashi and her research group at UCR are uncovering the molecular structure of the genes for the proteins that spiders use to make their silken egg cases. These findings increase our understanding of spiders, their silks, and their evolution, and may also lead to development of new materials for industrial, medical, and military applications.

A strand of spider silk is one-tenth the diameter of a human hair and when compared to a length of steel of the same diameter, spider silk is five times stronger, yet it is lighter than cotton. In addition to its strength, spider silk has a fair amount of elasticity. Although other materials may be strong, they may be stiff, making the silks a candidate for use as medical sutures or in implants where the pairing of toughness and flexibility could certainly be an advantage.  Other types of products that may be possible are bulletproof vests or other kinds of body or equipment armor and a new variety of high-performance ropes — a thinner rope that would equal the strength of ropes currently in use. Being protein, spider silk is biodegradable, making it a green, eco-friendly product.

Hayashi received her bachelor's and doctoral degrees in biology from Yale University. She was a U.S. Presidential Scholar, National Merit Scholar, and recipient of both a Graduate Fellowship and Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. She was also a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Hayashi joined the faculty at UCR in 2001.She has been the principal investigator on multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office.

Call (631) 344-2345 for more information.

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