Eco-manufacturing more sustainable building materials

We work to understand how biomineralization can improve the sustainability, adaptability, and function of building and infrastructure materials. Drawing lessons from natural biomineralized composites, such as bone, we design materials intended for load-bearing use where biomineralization facilitates either the material's manufacturing or improves its resulting material properties. We utilize bacterial and fungal species to build load-bearing materials with low temperature processes. We are exploring patterning biomineralization to build more complex structures and also to utilize other microbial metabolisms to better re-use or recycle these materials. For some of these materials, we endeavor to keep the microbial component alive for a prolonged period of time, imparting unique functionalities to load-bearing materials. We are hiring 2-3 PhD students to work in this area (updated October 2023).

 Selected papers:

Espinal, M., Kane, S., Ryan, C., Phillips, A., & Heveran, C. (2022). Evaluation of the bonding properties between low-value plastic fibers treated with microbially-induced calcium carbonate precipitation and cement mortar. Construction and Building Materials357, 129331.

Rux, K., Kane, S., Espinal, M., Ryan, C., Phillips, A., & Heveran, C. (2022). The impacts of biomineralization and oil contamination on the compressive strength of waste plastic-filled mortar. Scientific Reports12(1), 21547.

Heveran, C. M., Williams, S. L., Qiu, J., Artier, J., Hubler, M. H., Cook, S. M., ... & Srubar III, W. V. (2020). Biomineralization and Successive Regeneration of Engineered Living Building Materials. Matter.

Heveran, C. M., Liang, L., Nagarajan, A., Hubler, M. H., Gill, R., Cameron, J. C., ... & Srubar, W. V. (2019). Engineered ureolytic microorganisms can tailor the Morphology and nanomechanical properties of Microbial-precipitated calcium carbonate. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-13.

New trajectories for managing age-related bone fragility

 We are interested in the role of the osteocyte - the most abundant bone cell - in maintaining bone fracture resistance through the lifespan. Some of our work also interrogates how the gut microbiome interacts with osteocyte health and function. Our key techniques include nanoindentation, atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron imaging, in situ fracture toughness testing, and scanning nano-Auger microscopy.

Selected papers:

Heveran, C. M., & Boerckel, J. D. (2023). Osteocyte Remodeling of the Lacunar-Canalicular System: What’s in a Name?. Current Osteoporosis Reports21(1), 11-20.

Vahidi, G., Moody, M., Welhaven, H. D., Davidson, L., Rezaee, T., Behzad, R., ... & Heveran, C. M. (2023). Germ‐Free C57BL/6 Mice Have Increased Bone Mass and Altered Matrix Properties but Not Decreased Bone Fracture Resistance. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Rux, C. J., Vahidi, G., Darabi, A., Cox, L. M., & Heveran, C. M. (2022). Perilacunar bone tissue exhibits sub-micrometer modulus gradation which depends on the recency of osteocyte bone formation in both young adult and early-old-age female C57Bl/6 mice. Bone157, 116327.

Vahidi, G., Rux, C., Sherk, V. D., & Heveran, C. M. (2021). Lacunar-canalicular bone remodeling: Impacts on bone quality and tools for assessment. Bone143, 115663.

Vahidi, G., Flook, H., Sherk, V., Mergy, M., Lefcort, F., & Heveran, C. M. (2021). Bone biomechanical properties and tissue-scale bone quality in a genetic mouse model of familial dysautonomia. Osteoporosis International32(11), 2335-2346.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis - an early role for subchondral bone?

One of our research directions is in understanding how subchondral bone changes soon after an ACL tear and how these changes contribute towards the progression to post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Key techniques include nanoindentation, confocal laser scanning microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and tissue metabolomics.

Selected papers:

Hislop, B. D., Devine, C., June, R. K., & Heveran, C. M. (2022). Subchondral bone structure and synovial fluid metabolism are altered in injured and contralateral limbs 7 days after non-invasive joint injury in skeletally-mature C57BL/6 mice. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage30(12), 1593-1605.

Hislop, B. D., Heveran, C. M., & June, R. K. (2021). Development and analytical validation of a finite element model of fluid transport through osteochondral tissue. Journal of biomechanics123, 110497.