Highlights

Designing with Living Materials presented at IAAC

Thora presented her experience in designing with living materials in a lecture at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) last week. Her focus was on her thesis topic, working with biomineralisation as a material for designers, and the Thinking Soils project. The presentation was a part of the Biology ZERO series, run by Dr Nuria Conde Pueyo and Jonathan Minchin […]

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Paper: Mild hydrostatic pressure triggers oxidative responses in Escherichia coli

Our paper titled: Mild hydrostatic pressure triggers oxidative responses in Escherichia coli has been published in the scientific journal Plos One, July issue.   The abstracts as follows: Hydrostatic pressure is an important physical stimulus which can cause various responses in bacterial cells. The survival and cellular processes of Escherichia coli under hydrostatic pressures between 10 MPa and […]

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Paper: Design and modelling of an engineered bacteria- based, pressure-sensitive soil

We have published our paper on the design and modelling of an engineered bacteria-based, pressure-sensitive soil in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, July issue.   The abstracts as follows:   In this paper, we describe the first steps in the design of a synthetic biological system based on the use of genetically modified bacteria to detect elevated […]

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The bio design lab in action

    Our team hard at work in our bio design lab in the Devonshire building at Newcastle University in our new Thinking Soils lab coats. After some time setting up we have a few projects that are already making use of the facilities. Here, Beate and Thora have been cultivating and experimenting with a biomineralising bacteria and […]

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Javier Rodriguez Corral receives best paper at ICGRE’18 conference in Budapest

We are pleased to announce that Javier Rodriguez Corral won the best paper award at the 3rd International Conference on Geotechnical Research and Engineering (ICGRE’18) in Budapest last month. The conference aim was to become the leading annual conference in fields related to geotechnical engineering, with over 120 papers presented. The conference paper: Agarose Gel as a Soil Analogue for Novel Ground […]

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MBC Documentary Features the Thinking Soils Project

A documentary on the problems and potentials of bacteria and bacteria based technologies was broadcast in South Korea in December 2017. The documentary featured and interview with Martyn Dade-Robertson and clips of Luis Hernan and Javier Rodriguez Corral working in our new BioDesign Lab at Newcastle University. The video posted here is a clip from the documentary.   […]

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Bio Design Lab is now up and running

We have finally moved in to our new Bio Design lab in the Devonshire building at Newcastle University. So far our work has been spread across Labs at the Centre of Bacteria Cell Biology (at Newcastle University), Northumbria University and Civil Engineering as well as the workshops in Architecture at Newcastle University.  The lab has been […]

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Thinking Soils Presented at UC Berkeley and NASA Ames

Martyn Dade-Robertson kicked off the new Thinking Soils project with a public lecture at UC Berkeley (Wednesday 18th October 2017) and NASA Ames (Thursday 19th 2017). The US Berkeley Lecture can be seen here.

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Thinking Soils: New PhD studentship Available

We are pleased to announce a PhD studentship in a pioneering new EPSRC funded project: “Thinking Soils”. We are looking for highly motivated and talented Design Lead Researcher to join the team and take a leading role in a new field of Bio-Design by exploring the design potentials of living materials which respond to physical […]

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EPSRC Design the Future 2: Thinking Soils

We have just completed our Booster Grant application following our Computational Colloids Pilot Project.  Inevitably in writing the follow-up grant we have been unable to include everything that we wanted. In particular we didn’t have room in our two page project report for a visual summary of our results or a diagram which helped to […]

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Future buildings could grow their own foundations

Reuters have produce a short video featuring out Computational Colloids project: Researchers at the universities of Newcastle and Northumbria want to render traditional building foundations obsolete. They’re working on engineering individual cells that react to changes in the environment and strengthen the soil around them, potentially making concrete-filled trenches unnecessary. Jim Drury reports. Full video […]

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Design of press mechanism

The physical demonstrator needs to integrate a mechanism strong enough to produce the range of pressures required to activate our pressure-sensitive bacteria, in a form-factor that is easy to transport and operate in the microbiology lab. The sketches below correspond to some initial studies on mechanisms that enable producing relatively high force loads. The exploration […]

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Challenges of interdisciplinary research

One of the main challenges in this project is the different disciplines, practices and spaces that come into play. The ultimate goal of Computational Colloids is to produce a genetically modified organism that is sensitive to pressure changes. This is particularly relevant in the context of foundations, where building produce pressure on soils volumes. Moreover, several […]

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Experimental Architecture Studio 2016: Bacteria Hygromophs

Some amazing work from this years 3rd Year Architecture Students. This year they developed prototype actuated building skin components based on a hygromorphic material using bacteria spores. The work was presented on Monday 21st November. The results were astounding – as evidenced by the quality of the video above.

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Design of the pressure vessel

As described in the previous post, Computational colloids proposes a genetically modified organism that responds to pressure by synthesising material. A transitional stage involves finding a gene that will respond to pressure, amplify its response, and connect it to a luminescence module. The physical demonstrator is intended to operate, initially, in this transitional stage by […]

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Daily Mail article published on Computational Colloids and Construction on Mars

Forget bricks, researchers say ‘smart soil’ injected with GM bacteria could be used to grow the first homes on Mars Genetically engineered bacteria injected into Martian soil could one day be used to grow the foundation for buildings on the red planet. Scientists and architects have teamed up to create a new material known as […]

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Genetically Engineered Bacteria Will Get Construction Jobs on Mars

Coverage in Inverse Magazine focuses on the alien world applications of the Computational Colloids project: Every building starts with a strong foundation — pouring concrete into a hole, constructing on top of it. But according to Martyn Dade-Robertson, the buildings on Mars won’t follow that formula, instead relying on colonies of genetically-engineered bacteria to be […]

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“Bacteria in soil may stop homes collapsing” Coverage of Computational Colloids in The Times

The times have published an article on the Computational Colloids Project: Houses could be prevented from collapsing by bacteria genetically engineered to stabilise the soil beneath their foundations. When they sensed physical pressure such as subsidence or earthquake, the bacteria would make “bio-cement” to harden the ground underneath the building. Researchers led by Martyn Dade-Robertson, […]

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International Press Coverage for Computational Colloids

There have been a number of articles written in response to our Thinking Soils paper including: tiscali news:  http://notizie.tiscali.it/scienza/articoli/arriva-cemento-vivente/ l’humanite: http://www.humanite.fr/la-societe-en-bref-613694 Next Big Future: http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/genetically-modified-bacteria-could.html

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“‘Thinking soil’ made of bacteria could keep buildings from collapsing”

An article on our Computational Colloids project has been published in Science: It can be quite costly, even catastrophic, when the land under a building subsides. But genetically engineered microbes may one day keep that from happening if researchers in the United Kingdom are successful. Inspired by undergraduates who made a concrete-repairing bacterium—dubbed BacillaFilla—for a […]

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