Yvonne Zagzag

Ph.D. Candidate
Email: yzagzag@sas.upenn.edu

220 S 33rd St
Towne 347
Philadelphia, PA, 19104


Since 2019: Ph.D. Candidate in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania with Drs. Chinedum Osuji and Randall Kamien
2019: Bachelors of Arts in Physics from New York University

Research Overview

Current Research

My thesis work is focused on developing a technique to encode textures — arrangements of mesophase grain orientation — in soft materials using a variety of physical and chemical constraints.

For context, many materials have some type of anisotropy that can be used for orientational control during self-assembly or material relaxation. In this research group, We are compelled and excited by the idea of controlling material excitations using these orientational cues.

Specifically, I am working with a methodology for precisely controlling liquid crystalline materials using micro-structured magnetic materials and the spatially varying fields they produce. Ultimately, we aim to use these tools to develop stimuli-responsive materials.

The resulting responsive materials, metamaterials, bring new tactics to construct blueprints for smart matter, predicated on the nature of texture.

Top: By changing the local chemistry we change the magnitude of isotropic swelling to reconfigure a flat sheet to a globe.
Bottom: By changing the local geometry, we can program the orientation of the deformation of an anisotropic material.

Previous Research

With Professor David Grier at NYU, I studied the extent to which Holographic Video Microscopy (HVM) can reveal the kinetics of molecular binding. I demonstrated that holographic particle characterization can directly detect the binding of proteins to functionalized colloidal probe particles by monitoring the associated change in the particles’ diameters. Specifically, I showed that HVM can be used for label-free binding assays. Our published work can be found here. (link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-58833-7)


  1. Zagzag, Y., Soddu, M.F., Hollingsworth, A.D., Grier, D.G. Holographic molecular binding assays. Sci Rep 10, 1932 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58833-7

Diversity & Inclusion

I currently sit on the organizing committee for the UPenn Diversity and Inclusion in Physics (DIP) group, which teaches awareness about the issues that marginalized and underrepresented people in physics encounter. AT NYU I I organized the NYU Women in STEM Peer Undergraduate Mentorship program. I also co-created the NYU Women in Physics group for undergraduates and graduates.