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Photo of Marras, Alexander
Office Location: ETC 7.140

Alexander Marras

Assistant Professor

Department Research Areas:
Advanced Materials Science and Engineering
Biomechanical and Biomedicine Engineering
Nano and Micro-scale Engineering
Thermal Fluids Systems and Transport Phenomena

Marras Research Group

Alexander Marras received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University as a Presidential Fellow working with Carlos Castro in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His graduate research in structural DNA nanotechnology established a framework for DNA-based mechanical mechanisms and methods for their rapid actuation. During his PhD, he received multiple awards including the Best Poster Award at the Foundations of Nanoscience conference, a preeminent conference for DNA nanotechnology. Upon completion of his PhD, Marras joined Matthew Tirrell’s research group as a postdoctoral researcher at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory in October 2017. His postdoctoral studies focused on charged polymer assembly with biomolecules and structural characterization of nanomaterials using light scattering, electron microscopy, and small-angle X-ray scattering. His postdoctoral research also included a project with SiO2 Materials Science assembling COVID-19 vaccines and studying their structure and stability under various conditions. During his time as a postdoc, he served as co-chair for the Biomolecular Self-Assembly session at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting, served as Guest Editor of Applied Sciences, and served on the User Executive Committee for the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In August 2022, Dr. Marras joined The University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering and affiliated faculty member with the Texas Materials Institute.

The Marras research group at UT Austin specializes in biomolecular self-assembly, using tunable soft materials for nanoscale engineering. Current focuses are understanding structural design rules for nanoparticles for nucleic acid delivery, developing DNA-based sensors and actuators, and creating smart biohybrid materials. More information is available at the Marras research group website.

Selected Publications

  1. Marras, A.E., “Hierarchical Assembly of DNA Origami Nanostructures” MRS Communications. (2022)
  2. Marras, A.E., Ting, J.M., Stevens, K.C., Tirrell, M.V., “Advances in the structural design of polyelectrolyte complex micelles” Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 125:7076-7089 (2021)
  3. Marras, A.E., Campagna, T.C., Vieregg, J.R., Tirrell, M.V., “Physical property scaling relationships for polyelectrolyte complex micelles” Macromolecules. 54:6585-6594 (2021)
  4. Marras, A.E., Shi, Z., Lindell, M., Patton, R.A., Huang, C.M., Zhou, L., Su, H-J., Arya, G., Castro, C.E. “Cation-activated avidity for rapid reconfiguration of DNA nanodevices” ACS Nano. 12:9484-9494 (2018)
  5. Marras, A.E., Zhou, L., Su, H.J., Castro, C.E. "Programmable motion of DNA origami mechanisms." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112:713-8 (2015)