Biological tissues as mechanical metamaterials

Abstract: In multicellular organisms, properly programmed collective motion is required to form tissues and organs, and this programming breaks down in diseases like cancer. Recent experimental work highlights that some organisms tune the global mechanical properties of a tissue across a fluid-solid transition to allow or prohibit cell motion and control processes such as body axis elongation. In this talk, I will highlight universal features that emerge from models developed to predict this collective behavior. I will also discuss a framework that suggests the origin of rigidity in tissues is similar to that in mechanical metamaterials, like origami, and different from those in standard materials like glasses or granular matter.


Bio:  M. Lisa Manning is Director of the BioInspired Institute and the William R. Kenan Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on the mechanical properties of biological tissues and the failure of disordered materials.  Prof. Manning has given over 150 invited talks and published 55 peer-reviewed articles. She has received several awards including the 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, 2016 IUPAP Young Investigator Prize, a Simons Investigator award, a Sloan Fellowship, a Scialog award, as well as several teaching awards.  As an NSF CAREER awardee and a Cottrell Scholar, she has also developed programs to help recruit and retain a diverse group of scientists in STEM fields.

Additional Information:

For Zoom information and password, please contact Lisa Spicer at


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Media Contact: Lisa Spicer



The Department of Biomedical Engineering administers the undergraduate major in biomedical engineering, and is a part of the university-wide Intercollege Graduate Degree Program, offering both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering. Our work combines traditional engineering principles with medicine and technology for the betterment of human health and society. 

Department of Biomedical Engineering

122 Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-863-6614