Brian Williams completes his PhD at University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign

Monday, August 8, 2016

Aug. 8, 2016 - Brian Williams defended his dissertation "Low Reynolds Number Biohybrid Swimming" at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in front of advisor, Taher Saif, and the rest of his defense committee Hyunjoon Kong, Rhanor Gillette, and Gabriel Juarez.

In Saif Lab, Williams built multicellular biohybrid machines with networks of neurons and myocytes, including a flagellar swimmer that uses the contractions of one to several cardiac myocytes to generate propulsion at low Reynolds number. To achieve the goal of using the complex internal machinery of the eukaryotic cell to build programmable, self-powered, biohybrid robotics, Williams also microfabricated characterizable, compliant platforms to probe specific biological mechanisms, such as the role of mechanical coupling in the collective behavior of large populations of cardiac myocytes. Finally, he analyzed and studied vesicle dynamics in various cell types, and used their transport characteristics to probe the intracellular environment. 

Williams was one of EBICS's most prolific developers of outreach demonstrations, used in community events in Champaign, to present core EBICS research concepts, highlights of which include the soft robotics inchworm, the optogenetic bot, and most recently, the Elementary Braitenberg vehicle.

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Williams, who is currently a mechanical engineer at Lam Research in Portland Oregon, and we wish him great success as he moves forward in his career!


  • Diversity & Outreach