Spider silk’s innovative uses to highlight semester’s final Dixie Forum lecture

Utah State University professor Randolph Lewis, who will present Dixie State University’s final Dixie Forum lecture of the fall semester on Dec. 5. | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In the fall semester’s final installment of Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series “Dixie Forum: A Window on the World,” a Utah State University USTAR professor of biology will present on innovative uses for spider silk proteins.

Dr. Randolph Lewis will present “Spider Silk: Not Just Fibers Anymore” at noon Tuesday in the Dunford Auditorium, located in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State campus. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

In his Dixie Forum presentation, Lewis will discuss his research on spider silks and the proteins from which they are made. In the last 20 years, his research group has identified the proteins that make up spiders’ six different silks. Based on this information, the team has developed methods to make a wide variety of non-fiber materials, such as hydrogels, aerogels, films, coatings and adhesives. The team is working to produce materials with custom-designed strength and elasticity for applications in the medical, military and sports industries, such as a coating for catheters to prevent infection and occlusion, gels for tissue repair and regeneration, temporary gels for periodontics use and novel green adhesives.

Dr. Randolph Lewis

Prior to working for Utah State University as a professor and member of the Synthetic Biomanufacturing Center team, Lewis was a professor of molecular biology for 31 years at the University of Wyoming, where he also served as a department chair for five years and special assistant to the vice president for research. Lewis’s research team has published more than 140 papers in a variety of journals, written 16 book chapters, been featured on several TV shows including Discovery, Nova, BBC and CSI New York, and been issued seven patents and more than $34 million in grants.

Lewis earned his bachelor’s degree from California Institute of Technology and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California, San Diego before going on to serve as a postdoctoral fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.

Dixie State University’s Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George and Dixie State communities to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation.

The series will resume in January for the spring 2018 semester. For more information about the series, contact DSU’s Dixie Forum coordinator John Burns at 435-879-4712 or email or click here.

Event details

  • What: Dixie Forum lecture by Dr. Randolph Lewis titled “Spider Silk: Not Just Fibers Anymore”.
  • When: Tuesday, Dec. 5 at noon.
  • Where: Dunford Auditorium, located inside the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State University campus.
  • Details: Free and open to the public.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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