Faculty Directory
Monica Olvera de la Cruz

Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry and (by courtesy) Chemical and Biological Engineering, Physics and Astronomy

Director, Center for Computation & Theory of Soft Materials

Deputy Director, Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science


2220 Campus Drive
Cook Hall 2036
Evanston, IL 60208

847-491-7801Email Monica Olvera de la Cruz


Olvera de la Cruz Group


Materials Science and Engineering

Chemical and Biological Engineering

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Ph.D. Physics, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England

B.A. Physics, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico

Research Interests

Research in the Olvera de la Cruz group is centered around the development of models to describe the self-assembly of heterogeneous molecules including amphiphiles, copolymers, and synthetic and biological polyelectrolytes, as well as the segregation and interface adsorption in multicomponent complex fluids. Work by the group has resulted in a revised model of ionic-driven assembly: demonstrating the electrostatic spontaneous symmetry breaking of ionic fibers and membranes, and identifying its relevance to biological functions and to the design of functional materials. The group's investigations into soft and condensed matter physics have advanced scientific knowledge and opened new research fields of technological importance, including gel electrophoreses dynamics, self-organization of molecular electrolytes into bio-mimetic materials, self-assembly of heterogeneous molecules into complex nanostructures, interface adsorption and phase segregation dynamics and structure of multicomponent fluids.

Significant Recognition

  • 2020 Member of the American Philosophical Society
  • 2017 Polymer Prize of the American Physical Society
  • 2016 Miller Institute Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2012 Elected member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
  • 2010-2015 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship
  • 2007 Engineering and Applied Sciences Cozzarelli Prize, Proceeding of the National Academies, National Academies
  • 2003 Visiting Professor, Service de Physique Theorique, Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, CE-Saclay, France
  • 2001 Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • 1993 Visiting Scientist, Service de Chimie Moleculaire, Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique, CE-Saclay, France
  • 1990–95 NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award
  • 1990–92 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
  • 1989–94 David and Lucille Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering
  • 1988–93 National Institutes of Health FIRST Award

Significant Professional Service

  • International Scientific Committee Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielle de la ville de Paris (ESPCI Paris), 2020-2026
  • Gordon Research Conference Board of Trustees, 2019-2025
  • Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Basic Energy Sciences, Department of Energy, Subcommittee of the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), 2017-2018
  • Scientific Advisory Board, CIC biomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain, 2017-present
  • Committee on Vision of the Future of Center-Based, Multidisciplinary Engineering Research, National Academy of Sciences, 2016
  • International Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Physics, Mainz, Germany, 2015-present
  • Senior Editor, ACS Central Science, 2015-2022
  • National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering, 2014
  • Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), Department of Energy, 2012-2022
  • Scientific Member, Commissariat a l’Énergie Atomique (CE-SACLAY), 1995-97
  • Scientific Visitor, Service de Physique Théorique, CE-SACLAY, France, 2003
  • Advisory Committee, NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, 2005-09
  • Solid State Science Committee, National Research Council, 2006-09
  • Research at the Intersection of Physical and Life Sciences Committee, National Research Council, National Academies, 2007-09
  • Vice-chair Solid Sate Science Committee, National Research Council, 2008-10
  • Chair, Advisory Committee, NSF Division of Materials Research, 2007-09
  • Member, National Research Council Board of Physics and Astronomy
  • Chair, Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee, National Research Council, 2010-12

Selected Publications

  • Lin, Yange; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera, Colloidal superionic conductors, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2023).
  • Brisbois, Chase Austyn; Olvera de la Cruz, Monica, Positional ordering induced by dynamic steric interactions in superparamagnetic rods, Soft Matter (2023).
  • Wang, Jeremy; Waltmann, Curt; Harms, Caroline; Hu, Sumeng; Hegarty, John; Shindel, Benjamin; Wang, Qifeng; Dravid, Vinayak; Shull, Kenneth R.; Torkelson, John M.; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, Tailoring Interactions of Random Copolymer Polyelectrolyte Complexes to Remove Nanoplastic Contaminants from Water, Langmuir (2023).
  • Waltmann, Curt; Kennedy, Nolan W.; Mills, Carolyn E.; Roth, Eric W.; Ikonomova, Svetlana P.; Tullman-Ercek, Danielle; Olvera de la Cruz, Monica, Kinetic Growth of Multicomponent Microcompartment Shells, ACS nano (2023).
  • Mills, Carolyn E.; Waltmann, Curt; Archer, Andre G.; Kennedy, Nolan W.; Abrahamson, Charlotte H.; Jackson, Alexander D.; Roth, Eric W.; Shirman, Sasha; Jewett, Michael C.; Mangan, Niall M.; Olvera de la Cruz, Monica; Tullman-Ercek, Danielle, Vertex protein PduN tunes encapsulated pathway performance by dictating bacterial metabolosome morphology, Nature communications (2022).
  • Erdosy, Daniel P.; Wenny, Malia B.; Cho, Joy; DelRe, Christopher; Walter, Miranda V.; Jiménez-Ángeles, Felipe; Qiao, Baofu; Sanchez, Ricardo; Peng, Yifeng; Polizzotti, Brian D.; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera; Mason, Jarad A., Microporous water with high gas solubilities, Nature (2022).
  • Brisbois, Chase Austyn; De La Cruz, Monica Olvera, Locomotion of magnetoelastic membranes in viscous fluids, Physical Review Research (2022).
  • Coropceanu, Igor; Janke, Eric M.; Portner, Joshua; Haubold, Danny; Nguyen, Trung Dac; Das, Avishek; Tanner, Christian P.N.; Utterback, James K.; Teitelbaum, Samuel W.; Hudson, Margaret H.; Sarma, Nivedina A.; Hinkle, Alex M.; Tassone, Christopher J.; Eychmüller, Alexander; Limmer, David T.; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera; Ginsberg, Naomi S.; Talapin, Dmitri V., Self-assembly of nanocrystals into strongly electronically coupled all-inorganic supercrystals, Science (2022).
  • Zhang, Bo; Yuan, Hang; Sokolov, Andrey; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera; Snezhko, Alexey, Polar state reversal in active fluids, Nature Physics (2022).
  • Ehlen, Ali; Lopez-Rios, Hector; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, Metallization of colloidal crystals, Physical Review Materials (2021).
  • Waltmann, Curt; Mills, Carolyn E.; Wang, Jeremy; Qiao, Baofu; Torkelson, John M.; Tullman-Ercek, Danielle; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera, Functional enzyme–polymer complexes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2022).
  • Jiménez-Ángeles, Felipe; Harmon, Katherine J.; Nguyen, Trung Dac; Fenter, Paul; De La Cruz, Monica Olvera, Nonreciprocal interactions induced by water in confinement, Physical Review Research 2(4) (2020).
  • Zhang, Zhengyan; Yuan, Hang; Dou, Yong; De La Cruz, Monica Olvera; Bishop, Kyle J.M., Quincke Oscillations of Colloids at Planar Electrodes, Physical review letters 126(25) (2021).
  • Li, Siyu; Matoz-Fernandez, Daniel A.; Aggarwal, Aaveg; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera, Chemically controlled pattern formation in self-oscillating elastic shells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 118(10) (2021).
  • Li, Chuang; Lau, Garrett C.; Yuan, Hang; Aggarwal, Aaveg; Dominguez, Victor Lopez; Liu, Shuangping; Sai, Hiroaki; Palmer, Liam C.; Sather, Nicholas A.; Pearson, Tyler J.; Freedman, Danna E.; Amiri, Pedram Khalili; de la Cruz, Monica Olvera; Stupp, Samuel I., Fast and programmable locomotion of hydrogel-metal hybrids under light and magnetic fields, Science Robotics 5(49) (2020).
  • Waltmann, Curt; Asor, Roi; Raviv, Uri; Olvera de la Cruz, Monica, Assembly and Stability of Simian Virus 40 Polymorphs, ACS nano 14(4):4430-4443 (2020).