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

Current Research

At the University of Pennsylvania, my dissertation research confronts and exploits the interplay of the Ã…ngstrom and the micron scale. Specifically, I aim to develop a theoretical approach for programming carefully designed textures, methodical arrangements of mesophase grain orientation, in soft substances using patterned magnetic fields. The resulting responsive materials, metamaterials, bring new tactics to construct blueprints for smart matter, predicated on the nature of texture. With these schematics, I encode macroscopic chemical and physical properties in metamaterials through exquisite control of chemistry, physics, and geometry. To elucidate the properties of complex microstructural textures, I study liquid crystalline block copolymers (LCBCPs). The textures that emerge from the manipulation of LCBCPs in external fields and forces provide a playground of accessible phenomena to investigate. 

A system’s response is driven by a competition between magnetostatics and elasticity. While magnetostatics governs the mesogenic liquid crystalline polymers, chemical anisotropy and temperature dependence govern the elasticity of the diblock constituents. We ask, can grain orientation, tile structure, of the system induced by microphase separation of the diblock conform to the field patterns? If so, how does the system adopt the field-imposed structure?

By changing the local chemistry we change the magnitude of isotropic swelling to reconfigure a flat sheet to a globe. 
b: 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, Grier, D.G. Holographic molecular binding assays. Sci Rep 10, 1932 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58833-7
  2. 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.