My research and teaching focus on design and advanced manufacturing across scales. Since 2016 my group has utilized structural nucleic acid nanotechnology to create nanoscale biosensors and actuators that can interface with condensed matter as well as molecular and cellular biosystems. In addition, I am inspired by the heart, whose contractile function is derived from exquisite structure at the molecular level up through the tissue level. To enable the creation of dynamic, engineered systems with structure across multiple scales, my group employs self-assembly methods with structural DNA nanotechnology to augment and extend existing top-down microfabrication strategies. My teaching centers on the fundamentals of mechanical design as well as advanced topics in large-volume manufacturing as well the emerging design and validation methodologies for structural DNA nanotechnology. In both my research and teaching, I investigate DNA as an engineering material, and I aim to equip my students with the tools to utilize self-assembly as a powerful tool for advanced manufacturing. My research requires highly interdisciplinary groups of scientists and engineers, and, for this reason, my group collaborates with researchers in fields including Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Developmental Biology and Cardiovascular Medicine.


My research is focused in three primary domains: (1) DNA nanotechnology for molecular and cellular mechanobiology, (2) Bio-inspired Micro- and Nanosystems and (3) Advanced Manufacturing.

Area 1. DNA nanotechnology for molecular and cellular mechanobiology. The application of atomic force microscopy and fluorescent molecular tension sensing in biomechanics has enabled the visualization and quantification of nanometer-scale displacements and piconewton-scale. We are leveraging the unique capabilities of structural DNA nanotechnology to create tools for measuring stress and strain in soft materials (supported by AFOSR YIP), investigating molecular and cellular mechanobiology of the endothelial cells lining the vasculature (collaboration with Xi Ren, BME) and platelets circulating in the blood (supported by an NIH R21 in collaboration with Marvin Slepian in BME and Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Arizona). We are also investigating novel approaches for targeting DNA nanostructures for drug delivery and gene therapy.

Area 2. Bio-inspired Micro- and Nanosystems. As engineers, we are inspired by the robustness and programmability of nucleic acids, and we are interested to extend the capabilities of nucleic acid nanotechnology. A notable contribution from my lab is the creation of self-assembling nanofilaments from building blocks of a synthetic DNA mimic called gamma-modified peptide nucleic acid  (gPNA). We demonstrated that unlike DNA-based nanostructures these structures form and remain stable in harsh environments like aprotic organic solvent mixtures. With the support of my NSF CAREER award, we are investigating the use of gPNAs in the creation of bio-inspired materials for dynamic nanotechnology with unique bioorthogonality, solution stability and resistance to enzymatic degradation.

Area 3. Biomanufacturing and Nanomanufacturing. With my background in product design, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), molecular reconstitution assays, and DNA origami, my work spans the macro-, micro-, and nanoscales. Building on this multidisciplinary foundation, my group is working to address the advanced manufacturing challenges that will enable the combination of both top-down engineering processes with bottom-up engineering processes. For example, we have recently shown that DNA-based nanostructures can serve as flexible connectors for microscale swimmer robots, whose locomotion and swimming speeds can be tuned by connector geometry and mechanics. We are using DNA origami as a bridging material for enhancing existing self-assembly processes and for facilitating next-generation nanoscale and microscale fabrication efforts. We are also developing and utilizing workforce training tools like voice assistants that can expedite the mastery of new skills in advanced manufacturing.

A10 Scaife Hall
Google Scholar
Rebecca Taylor
Microsystems and Mechanobiology Lab website

Building Medical Devices at the Nano and Micro Scales

Modern Manufacturing in Steeltown


2013 Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

2013 Ph.D. Minor, Bioengineering, Stanford University

2010 MS, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

2001 BS, Department of Mechanical Engineering Degree with a Certificate in Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Princeton University

Media mentions

Five Engineering faculty receive professorships

ECE’s Yuejie Chi, MSE’s Marc De Graef, ECE’s Swarun Kumar, ECE’s Brandon Lucia, and MechE’s Rebecca Taylor recently received professorships in Engineering for their outstanding scholarly achievements.

Journal of Polymer Science

Taylor’s research featured in Women in Polymer Science Issue

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was the corresponding author on collaborative research between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry that was selected for the Women in Polymer Science Virtual Issue of the Journal of Polymer Science.

CMU Engineering

Collaboration shapes extracellular vesicle retention strategy

Phil Campbell and Charlie Ren present a strategy to spatially control extracellular vesicles and keep them resolute under controlled conditions.

CMU Engineering

3D printing giant nanotech models

Caleigh Goodwin-Schoen and Rebecca Taylor are designing more affordable ways to print colorful 3D models of biological nanostructures, like proteins and DNA.

CMU Engineering

Faculty projects awarded DURIP funding

Three College of Engineering faculty members have been selected to receive funding for their projects through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP): Marc De Graef, Anthony Rollett, and Rebecca Taylor.

Roldan recognized as a 2021 HSF Scholar

MechE Ph.D. student D. Sebastian Arias Roldan was recognized as a 2021 Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar. He is developing a nano-scale DNA strain sensor capable of measuring sub-nanometer displacements as a member of the research team in Rebecca Taylor’s Microsystems and Mechanobiology Lab.

Florida News Times

Cagan and Taylor’s research on DNA origami featured

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan and Rebecca Taylor’s research on DNA origami was featured in Florida News Times.

CMU Engineering

Using DNA for tiny tech

Tito Babatunde and her advisors Rebecca Taylor and Jon Cagan are combining their expertise to optimize designs for DNA origami nanostructures.

Mechanical Engineering

Reassess, recalibrate, and transform

Mechanical Engineering students and faculty adapted with innovation and agility to finish the spring 2020 semester during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiple sources

Taylor featured on nanostructures

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was featured in multiple sources including ScienceDaily, Nanowerk, ScienceCodex, and AzoNano, on her research on nanostructures.

CMU Engineering

Unlocking PNA’s superpowers

Rebecca Taylor and her research team have developed a method for self-assembling nanostructures with gamma-modified peptide nucleic acid, a synthetic mimic of DNA.

CMU Engineering

Behind the shield

Tech Spark is fabricating face shields for essential workers at the front lines of the COVID-19 response.