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

  • Member of the American Philosophical Society, 2020
  • National Institutes of Health FIRST Award, 1988–93
  • David and Lucille Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, 1989–94
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 1990–92
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1990–95
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2001
  • Engineering and Applied Sciences Cozzarelli Prize, Proceeding of the National Academies, National Academies, 2007
  • 2010 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
  • 2010-2015 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship
  • 2012 Elected member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013 Distinguished Lecturer, Mathematical Physical Sciences Directorate, National Science Foundation
  • 2017 Polymer Prize of the American Physical Society

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, 2017-2020
  • 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, 2015-2020
  • Senior Editor, ACS Journal of Central Science, 2015
  • National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering, 2014
  • Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), Department of Energy, 2013-2021
  • Scientific Member, Commissariat a l’Énergie Atomique (CE-SACLAY), 1995-97
  • Scientific Visitor, Service de Physique Théorique, CE-SACLAY, France, 2003
  • NSF Role of Theory in Biological Physics and Materials workshop, organizer & speaker, 2004
  • Baetjer Lecturer, Princeton University, 2005
  • 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

  • Liang, Yihao; Ma, Boran; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, Reverse order-disorder transition of Janus particles confined in two dimensions, Physical Review E 103(6).
  • 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).
  • Wang, Jeremy; Waltmann, Curt; Umana-Kossio, Han; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica; Torkelson, John M., Heterogeneous Charged Complexes of Random Copolymers for the Segregation of Organic Molecules, ACS Central Science 7(5):882-891.
  • Ma, Boran; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, A Perspective on the Design of Ion-Containing Polymers for Polymer Electrolyte Applications, Journal of Physical Chemistry B 125(12):3015-3022.
  • Li, Yaohua; Kennedy, Nolan W.; Li, Siyu; Mills, Carolyn E.; Tullman-Ercek, Danielle; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, Computational and Experimental Approaches to Controlling Bacterial Microcompartment Assembly, ACS Central Science 7(4):658-670.
  • 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).
  • Lopez-Rios, Hector; Ehlen, Ali; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica, Delocalization Transition in Colloidal Crystals, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 125(1):1096-1106.
  • Chen, Yijing; Jiménez-Ángeles, Felipe; Qiao, Baofu; Krzyaniak, Matthew D; Sha, Fanrui; Kato, Satoshi; Gong, Xinyi; Buru, Cassandra T.; Chen, Zhijie; Zhang, Xuan; Gianneschi, Nathan; Wasielewski, Michael R.; Olvera de la Cruz, M; Farha, Omar k, Insights into the Enhanced Catalytic Activity of Cytochrome c When Encapsulated in a Metal-Organic Framework, Journal of the American Chemical Society 142(43):18576-18582.