Skip to content
Valeria Tohver Milam joined the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in July 2004. She received her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with Honors from the University of Florida in 1993. After completing her M.S. degree (1997) in MSE at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she interned at Sandia National Laboratories. She then completed her doctoral work at UIUC studying the phase behavior, structure and properties of nanoparticle-microsphere suspensions. Experimental results suggested a novel colloidal stabilization mechanism known as nanoparticle “haloing” in which otherwise negligibly charged microspheres become effectively charge-stabilized by their surrounding shell of highly charged nanoparticles.
After finishing her Ph.D. in 2001, her postdoctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania focused on DNA-mediated colloidal assembly. The degree of specific attraction between DNA-grafted microspheres was found to vary with sequence length, sequence concentration and ionic strength. A variety of structures such as colloidal chains, rings and satellites were formed by varying the particle size ratio and suspension composition.
B.S. Materials Science & Engineering, University of Florida (1993)
M.S. Materials Science & Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1997)
Ph.D. Materials Science & Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2001)
DNA-based ligands called aptamers are functionally similar to antibodies, but have several advantages. These advantages include easier screening and handling procedures, longer shelf-life, and a richer range of both biological and nonbiological target species. The Milam group has developed a nonevolutionary screening platform called CompELS (Competition-Enhanced Ligand Selection) to efficiently identify aptamer “winners” from billions of candidate sequences. Patterns in sequence segments and secondary structures are analyzed among these winners using a variety of computational tools. Ultimately, the goal is to employ these functional oligonucleotides for a variety of applications ranging from highly specific capture agents in sensor and therapeutic systems to macromolecular “reagents” in materials processing.
The specific recognition between matching or complementary oligonucleotides allows for programmable adhesion between complementary particle surfaces. To program reversible adhesion events under isothermal conditions, the Milam group has explored a variety of natural and unnatural oligonucleotides to serve exchangeable partner strands. Using a variety of biocompatible and biodegradable materials as the colloidal substrate, these biocolloids can serve as building blocks to fabricate novel material constructs ranging from stimuli-responsive hybrid materials to therapeutic delivery vehicles.
Georgia Institute of TechnologyNorth Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30332Phone: 404-894-2000