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Monica Olvera de la Cruz

Northwestern University / Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS)
Evanston, IL
Monica Olvera de la Cruz is a soft-matter theorist, the Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. Monica obtained her B.A. in Physics from the UNAM, Mexico, in 1981, and her Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University, UK, in 1985, and she is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Physical Society. Monica directed the Northwestern University Materials Research Center from 2006–2013, which she grew in research, funding level and education, and expanded it to impact society beyond science and engineering by facilitating development of visionary outreach programs in the arts such as The Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS). Monica has developed novel methods to analyze complex systems. Her current work is focused on self-assembly of heterogeneous molecules, charged molecules and in molecular electrolytes. She has described emergence of shape and patterns in membranes and in multicomponent complex mixtures. She and her students and postdocs discovered that electrostatics leads to spontaneous symmetry breaking in ionic membranes such as viral capsid (for which they were awarded the 2007 Cozarelli Prize), and in fibers. Olvera de la Cruz currently serves in the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, United States Department of Energy, and on the Board of Physics and Astronomy, United States National Research Council. She has participated in various National Research Council committees including the Committee on Societal Benefits from Condensed Matter and Materials Research, Research at the Intersection of Physical and Life Sciences (RIPLS), the Solid State Science Committee and the Committee on Key Challenge Areas for Convergence and Health; from 2010-12 she chaired the Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee. From 2005 to 2009 she was in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation, and chaired the Division of Materials Research Advisory Committee.