Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Alex Volinsky, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Garrett Matthews, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ryan Toomey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Lee, Ph.D.


Poly (dimethylsiloxane), Fibroblast, Focal adhesion, Wettability


Cells have the ability to sense the rigidity of the extracellular matrix which directly affects the control of cellular functions in development, wound healing and malignant transformation. Polydimethylsiloxane elastomers are useful model biomaterials for mechanotransduction studies because they possess several advantages including ease of fabrication, tunable elasticity and modifiable surface chemistry. In this work, we are investigating the influence of matrix stiffness on adhesion strength and the mechanosensory structures that regulate these processes. In addition, the effect of surface modifications to this elastic substrate system on other physical properties such as local stiffness and topography will be analyzed. Based on previous research, we hypothesized that cell adhesion dependent processes will be regulated by matrix stiffness, but that surface chemistry influences on protein adsorption could provide overriding regulatory signals. The results of this research will provide insight into the interconnected processes of mechanosensing and cell adhesion strengthening, and reveal criteria for designing instructive biomaterials with specific mechanical and chemical properties.