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User Experience Design Talks: “Making Active Materials Green: Morphing Matter for Sustainability” by Lining Yao (CMU)

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program will organize between April and June a series of webinars entitled User Experience Design Talks @CMU Portugal”. This initiative is conducted under the Advanced Training Programs in User Experience Design of the CMU Portugal Program, which is planned to start in 2021.

The second talk will take place on May 18, 3 pm (Lisbon)/ 10 am (Pittsburgh) , by Lining Yao, Assistant Professor of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon University, directing the Morphing Matter Lab.

Registration is free but mandatory: online form. All participants will receive the login credentials the day before the event.


The talk starts with different morphing mechanisms in natural seeds and microorganisms, and ends with an ecological vision of the future empowered by morphing materials. Nature has engineered many morphing materials for the sake of survival. In particular, environmentally responsive materials combined with unique structures such as bi-layers and honeycombs serve as seed dispersal and burial mechanisms. Unlike many artificial robots, these natural adaptive and autonomous systems are completely electricity-free and biodegradable. Learning from nature, biodegradable morphing mechanisms are developed to save our planet’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. This talk will also reflect the designer’s role in such efforts to build, or rebuild, a harmonious relationship between technology and environment, humankind and nature.

Lining Yao is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science, directing the Morphing Matter Lab. Morphing Matter lab develops materials, tools, and applications of adaptive, dynamic and intelligent morphing matter from nano to macro scales. Research often combines material science, computational fabrication and creative design practices. Lining and her lab work anti-disciplinarily, publishing and exhibiting across science, engineering, design and art. Lining gained her PhD at MIT Media Lab, where she combined biological and engineering approaches to develop physical materials with dynamic and tunable properties including shape, color, stiffness, texture and density. Beyond her teaching and research in the School of Computer Science, Lining holds courtesy appointments at Mechanical Engineering, as well as Material Sciences and Engineering. She is supervising undergraduate and graduate students across the College of Engineering and College of Art.

Next Talk:

Session 3: June 1st at 3 pm (Lisbon)/ 10 am (Pittsburgh)
“Context-Driven Implicit Interactions” by Gierad Laput, Research and Engineering Manager at Apple:
More at the event page

More about the previous Talk:
Session 1: John Zimmerman (CMU HCI Institute) “Designing Systems that Blend Human and Machine Intelligence”

Start date

May. 18, 2021

3:00 pm

End Date

May. 18, 2021