The department of mechanical engineering is excited to welcome Dr. Samira Shiri as an assistant professor this fall. Shiri received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Boston University. Following her Ph.D., Shiri was a postdoctoral fellow at Cira Lab at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, where she worked on leveraging the interaction of liquids and surfaces for developing novel high throughput liquid handling devices. Shiri moved with the Cira Lab to Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell and applied her developed high throughput liquid-handling platform in application, including screening antibiotic combinations for antagonistic and synergistic effects, as well as mapping how different combinations and concentrations of ionic substitution give rise to perovskite crystals with different photonic properties.

To date, Shiri’s work has focused on interfacial transport, including heat and mass, to investigate counter-intuitive phenomena. In a study of heat exchange when drops impact surfaces of different temperature, Shiri showed that smaller drops transfer a larger fraction of their potential heat compared to larger drops, despite a shorter period in contact with a superhydrophobic surface. Her emphasis was on duck feathers to explain how birds avoid hypothermia when flying in cold rain. Shiri has contributed to theory and applications related to interaction of droplets with surfaces ranging from superhydro- and superomni- phobic, to superphilic, in both fundamental and applied contexts.

Shiri’s current work focuses on the interfacial transport physics of natural and artificial systems. The importance of the field is in the discovery and characterization of physical and chemical changes that occur at the boundary of two different phases, such as solid and liquid or two liquids, to introduce game-changing innovations such as antibacterial surfaces. The key components of Interfacial & Transport Physics lab (IT Physics) are:

  1. High throughput experiments and analysis of complex fluids
  2. Systems of biological active matter and artificial passive particles
  3. Blood pattern analysis (BPA) | forensic science

“These problems are at the intersection of applied physics, life science, and engineering and my research group will be particularly well suited to investigate these multidimensional interdisciplinary systems due to my group’s diverse scientific background and the novel high throughput liquid handling device that I developed and co-invented during my postdoctoral research,” said Shiri.

The Surface Pattern Omniphobic Tiles (SPOTs) that Shiri developed enable parallel manipulation of thousands of independent low and high surface tension liquids mixtures in a few minutes at volumes down to nanoliters, without the need for a unique pipette tip for each reaction. The fabrication of this device also does not require custom synthesis of special molecules or micro/nano fabrication of re-entrant geometries.

“When it comes to choosing a research topic, I have been always inspired by novelty, room for exploration and new venues of application, as well as personal enthusiasm,” said Shiri. “My lab will not shy away from delving into new projects and collaborating with researchers in disparate fields. We will work on a combination of basic and applied projects targeted towards answering big questions and addressing the most pressing technological gaps. I believe that diversity, not only in skills, expertise, and academic background, but also in life experiences can ensure the prosperity of my lab, and I will commit to that in recruiting my lab members.”