Stanford Engineering

2014 David M. Mason Lectures
May 5-7

The 39th Annual

David M. Mason Lecturer

David A. Weitz

David A. Weitz

The 39th Annual David M. Mason Lectures in Chemical Engineering will be presented by David A. Weitz. He is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics & Applied Physics and professor of Systems Biology at Harvard University. Weitz and his group study the physics of soft condensed matter, materials easily deformed by external stresses, electric, magnetic or gravitational fields, and even thermal fluctuations. These materials typically possess structures much larger than atomic or molecular scales; the structure and dynamics at these mesoscopic scales determine the macroscopic physical properties.

The goal of their research is to probe and understand the relationship between mesoscopic structure and bulk properties. The group studies both synthetic and biological materials, with interests ranging from fundamental physics to technological applications and from basic materials questions to specific biological problems.

Techniques used by the group include video-image analysis, light scattering, optical microscopy, rheology, and laser tweezing. New experimental techniques are developed, such as the use of multiply scattered waves to study the dynamics and mechanical properties of materials.

Weitz and his group study the properties of colloidal suspensions to investigate the behavior of crystals and glasses as well as the properties of highly disordered gels.  They use confocal microscopy, scattering and rheology to investigate both fundamental properties that are modeled using the colloidal particles as well as more technological applications of these systems.  They also investigate other soft materials such as foams, emulsions and gels, to study the relationship between their internal structure and dynamics and their bulk properties, developing a fundamental understanding that can also impact on technological applications.

Weitz and his group also are developing methods to make ‘designer’ emulsions and foams on a drop-by-drop basis using a class of microfluidic devices that they have developed.  They fabricate multiple emulsions with exquisite precision and they explore both the basic physics of these structures, as well as their potential uses for encapsulation of active materials.  In addition, they explore the scale-up of these structures to make useful quantities of materials.

The group also develops drop-based microfluidics for biophysics and biotechnology applications.  This is a microfluidic technique where minute drops immersed in an inert carrier fluid are used as reaction vessels of only a few picoliters in volume.  They are used to collect biological data at very high rates, and Weitz and his group are applying them to investigate issues in biology and for biotechnology applications.

The group also investigates the mechanical properties of biopolymer networks, both model, reconstituted networks, and those in cells, with a goal of understanding mechanical behavior at the level of single cells and of tissue.  They investigate the properties of reconstituted networks of actin, microtubules and intermediate filaments, and study ‘active’ networks, where molecular motors induce active motion.  These studies provide insight into the mechanical properties of cells. They also investigate mechanical properties of extracellular biopolymer networks, including collagen and fibrin.

Weitz and his group have extensive interactions with industry, with some of their work motivated by the science that directly addresses technologically important problems.  In addition, some research in the group has led to promising new technologies, and several start-up companies have emerged from the research. 


"Drop-based microfluidics: Biology a picoliter at a time"

(technical lecture)

Monday, May 5, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Location: Munzer Auditorium, Beckman Center
Refreshments at 5:00 p.m. on the Beckman Bistro patio following the lecture.

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This talk will describe the use of microfluidic technology to control and manipulate drops whose volume is about one picoliter. These can serve as reaction vessels for biological assays. These drops can be manipulated with very high precision using an inert carrier oil to control the fluidics, ensuring the samples never contact the walls of the fluidic channels. Small quantities of other reagents can be injected with a high degree of control. The drops can also encapsulate cells, enabling cell-based assays to be carried out. Examples of the application of these devices to the study of fundamental biology and to biotechnology will be described.

“Dripping, jetting, drops and wetting: the magic of microfluidics”

(non-technical lecture)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 3:00 p.m.
Location: Munzer Auditorium, Beckman Center
Refreshments at 4:30 p.m. on the Beckman Bistro patio following the lecture.

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This talk will discuss the use of microfluidic devices to precisely control the flow and mixing of fluids to make drops, and will explore how these drops can be used to create new materials that are difficult to synthesize with any other method. These materials have great potential for use for encapsulation and release and for drug delivery. I will demonstrate how this can be used for new fundamental and technological applications. I will also demonstrate that even though the drops are made one by one, there are methods that their production can be scaled up to create meaningful quantities of materials that have practical uses.

Reception and Dinner following Wednesday’s lecture
Reception at 6:00 p.m. – Dinner at 7:00 p.m.
$50.00 per person

Stanford Faculty Club
439 Lagunita Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
(650) 723-9313


2014 Mason Lecture Dinner Registration

Registration is open!

For additional information and dinner reservations
Sandra Handy
Department of Chemical Engineering
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5025
Tel: 650.498.2892  Fax: 650.497-5116



David M. Mason

David M. Mason
1921 - 1988

THE DAVID M. MASON LECTURES IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING are named in honor of the late David M. Mason, who was Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at Stanford University.  Born in Los Angeles, Dave Mason did both his graduate and undergraduate work at the California Institute of Technology, receiving the Ph.D. degree in 1949 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1966.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and in 1984 was presented the Institute's Founders Award for outstanding contributions in chemical engineering. His research interests lay in the field of applied chemical thermodynamics and kinetics. 

Dave joined the Stanford faculty in 1955 as an associate professor in the Chemistry Department's division of chemical engineering.  The relationships forged during those years have endured and have shaped the ties that still exist between the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.  In 1960, David Mason seized the opportunity to create an autonomous Department of Chemical Engineering as a result of a Ford Foundation grant to Stanford.  The most notable aspect of the succeeding events is the rapidity with which Dave built the department to a position of excellence and national prominence, hired senior and junior faculty, and provided the department with its first home, the John Stauffer Building, third of the buildings in the Stauffer complex.  He served as Chair of the Department from 1960-72, and then as Professor from 1972 until his retirement in 1986.  Dave Mason passed away in August, 1988.

David M. Mason Lecturers

1975 - Cornelius Pings

1989 - John H. Seinfeld

2002 - John F. Brady

1976 - Leon Lapidus

1990 - Harry G. Drickamer

2003 - Mark A. Barteau

1978 - Ralph Landau

1991 - L. Louis Hegedus

2004 - L. Gary Leal

1979 - Neal R. Amundson

1992 - William B. Russel

2005 - Elsa Reichmanis

1980 - Thomas Baron

1993 - Robert A. Brown

2006 - James A. Dumesic

1981 - John A. Quinn

1994 - Mary L. Good

2007 - David A. Tirrell

1982 - John R. Grey

1995 - John H. Sinfelt

2008 - Alice P. Gast

1983 - Thomas J. Hanratty

1996 - Lanny D. Schmidt

2009 - Ronald Larson

1984 - Paul M. Cook

1997 - Henrik Topsoe

2010 - Golden Anniversary Symposium

1985 - Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

1998 - Matthew Tirrell

2011 - G.M. "Bud" Homsy

1986 - Silver Anniversary Symposium

1999 - James E. Bailey

2012 - Enrique Iglesia

1987 - William R. Schowalter

2000 - Mark E. Davis

2013 - Gregory Stephanopoulos

1988 - Kenneth H. Keller

2001 - Robert S. Langer

2014 - David A. Weitz

2014 Mason Lecture
Dinner Registration

Registration is open!