Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Moran, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering, George Mason University

Ph.D., University of Washington, 2013
B.S.E., Arizona State University, 2007

Self-description in 10 words or less: I’m fascinated by fluid flows driven by invisible forces.

Research Interests: My research is broadly focused on better understanding the interplay between unique microscale phenomena (e.g. self-propelled microparticles, electrically-induced pore formation in cell membranes) and the nanoscale interfacial transport that drives these phenomena. I’m especially interested in self-propelled particles, or active colloids, which propel themselves in liquids without any moving parts. These particles can move in predetermined patterns and deliver cargo to targeted locations. My group seeks a fundamental understanding of the ways in which self-propelled particles affect their surrounding environment, and how changes in their environment in turn affect the particles’ motion. A better understanding of these effects will enable new applications in heat transfer enhancement, water remediation, and even cancer treatment.

Something you won’t find on my CV: When I'm not in the office or the lab, you can find me playing jazz on my upright bass, competing in a triathlon, or hiking in Shenandoah National Park.

Current Lab Members


Shrishti Singh

PhD Student
Bioengineering, George Mason University

Self-description in 10 words or less: A well-fed science enthusiast and researcher in the making.

Research Interests: I have always been interested in learning about problems in cancer biology and I would ponder on them for days to come up with a solution. In my undergraduate, my senior design project involved silver nanoparticles synthesis to tackle tooth decay. Since then, I have been fascinated by materials and the various ways in which we can tailor them for our specific applications. As I pursued my Masters, I realized that my interests can be combined effectively to potentially solve some problems in therapeutic cancer biology and that's what I hope to continue working in. I also have a deep-set interest in biophysics specifically studying interactions between different signalling proteins.

Something you won’t find on my CV: When I am not in the lab, I am often singing some bad Bollywood number while writing my crazy fictional stories! Or I might be making pretty pictures of different proteins (yes, I can do that!).


Amirabbas (Amir) Akbarzadeh

PhD Student
Mechanical Engineering, George Mason University

Research Interests: I am a Ph.D. student here at GMU. I did my masters and undergrad in mechanical engineering at Louisiana State University and Isfahan University of technology respectively.

My research background resides in surface laser texturing and plasma coating. I am interested in working on the thermal behavior of microswimmers in low viscosity fluids as well as the thermal behavior of gas induced swimsuits.

Outside of research, you can find me at the movies.

Lab Alumni


Matthew Baumholtz

Undergraduate Student

I will be an incoming freshman at The University of Chicago; I will be studying Economics and Astrophysics. My research background resides in Soft Robotics. Xavier M. Segel, co-Founder of Haverford School’s soft robotic team, and I lead in the creation of a patented, biocompatible, edible, and biodegradable soft robotic material. The product was submitted to Harvard’s International Soft Robotic Toolkit Competition and was awarded First Place.

Currently, Xavi and I are working on ferrofluidically actuating silicone soft mini-grippers into a spherical shape to capture an object. From this position, the actuator will be tetherlessly controlled using a neodymium magnet. Using this mechanism, we are able to ‘capture and cordlessly control’ any object. This project acts as a proof-of-concept for drug delivery or biocompatible medical device removal.

Outside of research, you can find me in the gym lifting weights or playing basketball.


Xavier Segel

Undergraduate Student

I am currently undertaking a gap year, but will be an incoming freshman at Williams College in the Fall of 2019, where I will be studying Molecular Biology. I have a research background in Physiology and Soft Robotics. I have worked extensively in the Department of Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania, where I looked to overturn existing models of subunit composition within mitochondrial calcium ion channels. In the field of soft robotics, I worked with Matthew N. Baumholtz to developed a new biocompatible, edible, and biodegradable soft material. In 2017, the product was submitted to Harvard’s International Soft Robotic Toolkit Competition and was awarded First Place. It was granted a utility patent and Best Poster Award at the 2018 MRS Spring Conference, Phoenix.

Within Dr. Moran's lab, Matt and I work generally with soft robotics. At the moment we are attempting to merge magnetism into soft robots to achieve a new type of autonomous actuation.

Outside of research, I am hard to find. I frequently rock climb, backpack, and go mountaineering. I will be somewhere in Nepal for the Fall of 2018 and somewhere in Patagonia for the Spring of 2019.