Professor Julia Kalow
Reactivity-property relationships in photocontrolled polymer networks
In polymer networks based on dynamic covalent bonds, changes in reactivity can be translated into macroscopic responses. Light offers precise, tunable, and noninvasive spatiotemporal control over molecular reactivity. The Kalow lab has designed crosslinks that allow us to tune the thermodynamics and kinetics of dynamic covalent bonds with light, including visible light, based on the conformation of an adjacent photoswitch. When incorporated into polymer networks, the mechanics can be tuned reversibly with light. I will discuss the molecular mechanism underlying these macroscopic changes, and their applications in biomaterials.
Professor Julia Kalow engages in research at the interface of organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, and materials science through two distinct approaches: materials-inspired reaction discovery and reactivity-driven materials discovery. In the first, researchers develop new synthetic transformations that provide control over the molecular structure of 1- and 2-dimensional organic polymers. In the second, they use knowledge of organic reactivity to tune the properties and functions of soft materials. These efforts enable the study of structure-property relationships and materials optimization for targeted applications, including optoelectronics and magnetooptics, catalysis, sensing, and biomaterials.
Professor Kalow obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University, where she studied chemistry and creative writing. Following an internship in the medicinal chemistry department at Merck, she pursued graduate studies at Princeton University as a National Science Foundation predoctoral fellow. She developed asymmetric catalytic fluorinations using a latent source of HF and studied their mechanisms in detail; her work was recognized by an American Chemical Society Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Fellowship Award. After completing her doctorate, she joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellow, studying the synthesis and self-assembly of novel architectures of conjugated block copolymers as well as responsive surfactant design for sensing applications. She started her independent career at Northwestern’s Department of Chemistry in July 2016.