Carnegie Mellon University

Rebecca  Taylor

Dr. Rebecca E. Taylor

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering

Scaife Hall 325
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


  • B.S.E., Mechanical Engineering, Princeton University, 2001
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2010
  • Ph.D., Minor Bioengineering, Stanford University, 2013
  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 2013


I am a mechanical engineer who specializes in modern manufacturing, and throughout my career I have been driven by the interplay of form and function in good design. As an undergraduate working on a research project on tethered satellites, I discovered the world of honeycomb composite materials and porous sintered polymers. That is where I first learned that mechanical structure could imbue materials with novel and unexpected properties. After college, while working as mechanical design engineer, I practiced mechanical device design for reliability and ease of manufacture, working as the primary engineer on both medical products and consumer products. I developed my expertise in rapid prototyping and the broad range of techniques for molding and fabrication as well as factory control and automation. The interplay between medical tools and biological systems formed the foundation of my interest in research, and that interest drew me back to academia.

When I returned to graduate school, I focused on microfabrication and biomechanics. At the microscale, the force of gravity is negligible, flow is largely laminar and motion is damped. The microscale world is a universe of its own, and there are countless opportunites for fabrication of novel microstructured materials. During my Ph.D., I fabricated microscale sensors for the functional assessment of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. I utilized sacrificial layers to define the mechanical loading of single heart muscle cells and to perform the first purely axial, contractile force measurements on immature and stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. I calibrated these sensors using piezoresistive cantilevers and achieved both accurate and precise measurements of nanoNewton-level forces. I also created planar, stretchable biosensors that physically route metal traces away from areas of large strain and achieve constant, stretch-independent electrical properties.
As a postdoctoral fellow, I worked at the nanoscale, studying the effects of mutations on cardiac contractile protein. In order to study the emergent mechanics of the multiprotein, acto-myosinc contractile system, I have worked to develop a DNA origami based synthetic cardiac sarcomere that will allow us to observe the cooperative behavior of motors as we scale up towards larger, more biomimetic systems.

As a professor I utilize DNA origami (bottom up manufacturing) to enable nanomanufacturing and nanomechanics of multiprotein systems. I will also continue my investigations into microstructures for biomimetic sensors and actuators (top down manufacturing). The future of manufacturing involves manufacturing across scales, and I am excited to be part of it. 


In the Taylor lab we develop dynamic micro- and nanosystems for enabling novel applications in biometry,  force spectroscopy, and cardiovascular biomechanics. For our nanoscale work we use structural DNA nanotechnology to build nanobiosensors that are undergo global shape change upon binding. At the microscale we are interested in developing strategies to allow our systems to assemble and actuate without hands-on (serial) fabrication. We are currently using stretch to drive folding and actuation in elastomeric microstructures.

We are also looking at how DNA nanosystems can act as adapters to facilitate microscale assembly. For instance, we are working to fabricate articulated microdevices wherein connectors made using structural DNA nanotechnology control the assembly of a larger microsystem.

Research Interests: microsystems; nanotechnology; DNA origami; biomechanics; nanobiosensors


Awards and Recognition