Christine D. Keating

Christine D. Keating

Main Content

  • Professor of Chemistry
512 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-7832


  1. B.S. Saint Francis College of Loretto, PA, 1991
  2. Ph.D. Penn State University, 1997

Honors and Awards:

  1. Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014
  2. Beckman Young Investigator Award, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, 2004- 07
  3. Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2005
  4. Unilever Award for Outstanding Young Investigator in Colloid and Surfactant Science, 2004
  5. Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2004
  6. NSF New Faculty CAREER Award, 2003-08

Selected Publications:

“Interactions of macromolecular crowding agents and cosolutes with small molecule substrates: Effect on horseradish peroxidase activity with two different substrates,” Aumiller Jr., W. M.; Davis, B. W.; Hatzakis, E.; Keating,, C. D. J. Phys. Chem. B 2014, 118,10624-10632.

“Multiphase water-in-oil emulsion droplets for cell-free transcription–translation,”  Torre, P.; Keating, C. D.; Mansy, S. S. Langmuir 2014, 30, 5695-5699.

“Coupled enzyme reactions performed in heterogeneous reaction media: Experiments and modeling for glucose oxidase and horseradish peroxidase in a PEG/citrate aqueous two-phase system,” Aumiller Jr., W. M.; Davis, B. W.; Hashemian, N.; Maranas, C.; Armaou, A.; Keating,, C. D. J. Phys. Chem. B 2014, 118, 2506-2517.

“Microwell directed self-assembly of vertical nanowire arrays,” Kirby, D. J.; Smith, B. D.; Keating, C. D. Particle and Particle Systems Characterization 2014, 31, 492-499.

“Bioreactor droplets from liposome-stabilized all-aqueous emulsions,”  Dewey, D. C.; Strulson, C. A.; Cacace, D. N.; Bevilacqua, P. C.; Keating, C. D. Nature Commun. 2014, 5, 4670 (doi: 10.1038/ ncomms5670).

“Phase separation as a possible means of nuclear compartmentalization,”  Aumiller Jr., W. M; Davis, B. W.; Keating, C. D. International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology 2014, 307, 109-149.

“Asymmetric van der Waals forces drive orientation of compositionally anisotropic nanocylinders within smectic arrays: Experiment and simulation,” Smith, B. D.; Fichthorn, K. A.; Kirby, D. J.; Quimby,L. M; Triplett,D. A.; González,P.; Hernández, D.; Keating,, C. D.  ACS Nano 2014, 8, 657-670.

“Biocatalyzed mineralization in an aqueous two-phase system: Effect of background polymers and enzyme partitioning”, Cacace, D. N.; Keating, C. D. J. Mater. Chem. B 2013, 1, 1794-1803.

“Aqueous phase separation as a possible route to compartmentalization of biological molecules,” Keating, C. D. Accounts of Chemical Research 2012, 45, 2114-2124.

“RNA catalysis through compartmentalization.Strulson,” C. A.; Molden, R. C.; Keating, C. D.; Bevilacqua, P. C. Nature Chem. 2012, 4, 941-946.

“Deterministic assembly of functional nanostructures using nonuniform electric fields”, Smith, B. D.; Mayer, J. S.; Keating, C. D. Annu. Rev. Phys. Chem. 2012, 63, 12.1-12.23.

“Complete budding and asymmetric division of primitive model cells to produce daughter vesicles with different interior and membrane composition”, Andes-Koback, M.; Keating, C. D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 9545-9555.

“Vertical arrays of anisotropic particles by gravity-driven self-assembly,” Smith, B. D.; Kirby, D. J.; Keating, C. D., Small 2011, 6, 781-787.

“Microcompartmentation in artificial cells: pH-induced conformational changes alter protein localization,” Dominak, L. M.; Gundermann, E. L.; Keating, C. D. Langmuir 2010, 26, 5697-5705.

“Enzyme:nanoparticle bioconjugates with two sequential enzymes: Stoichiometry and activity of malate dehydrogenase and citrate synthase on Au nanoparticles,” Keighron, J. D.; Keating, C. D., Langmuir 2010, 26, 18992-19000.

“Programmed assembly of DNA-coated nanowire arrays,” Morrow, T. J.; Li, M.; Kim, J.; Mayer, T. S.; Keating, C. D. Science 2009, 323, 352.

“Nanowire sensors for multiplexed detection of biomolecules,” He, B.; Morrow, T. J.; Keating, C. D. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 2008, 12, 522-528.

“Positioning lipid membrane domains in giant vesicles by micro-organization of aqueous cytoplasm mimic,” Cans, A-S.; Andes-Koback, M.; Keating, C. D., Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2008, 130, 7400-7406.


The Keating lab is interested in construction of functional materials from the bottom up, by control of their nanoscale and mesoscale features. Controlling the composition of matter at these length scales can lead to materials with entirely new and tailorable optical, electronic, and structural properties. Such materials will find applications in medicine, biotechnology, sensors, nanoscale electronics, and in a variety of other fields. Finding inspiration in cell biology and materials science, our research aims to bring new building blocks and new assembly tools to this task.


Soft Materials/Synthetic Biology: Bottom-up assembly of artificial cells and cell-like environments

The living cell can be thought of as a highly functional supramolecular assembly. The intricately complex physical structure and diversity of functions carried out by cells are simply extraordinary. How does the physical and chemical structure of the cell contribute to its properties? Can synthetic cells be assembled to perform functions of our own design? Our efforts are aimed at attainable progress towards the ultimate goal of learning how to use Biology's tricks, with an eye towards understanding life and redirecting these tools to assemble novel functional materials.  Major focus areas include compartmentalization in artificial cells based on phase separation in aqueous polymer solutions and exploring the effect of local concentration and enzyme co-localization on various biologically interesting reactions.

Colloid and surface chemistry/Bioanalysis: Particle functionalization, assembly and application in multiplexed bioanalysis

Key challenges in nanoscience today include the synthesis of functional particles, and the controlled assembly of these particles to construct functional architectures. The Keating group is active in nano/mico particle synthesis, bioconjugation, and assembly to meet these challenges. We synthesize nanospheres, nanowires, and more complex multiparticle assemblies for a variety of optical, electronic, or structural properties.  A fundamental question in this work is, “how can the construction of complex, multifunctional architectures be controlled on the nano- and microscale?” Long-term target structures include electronic and optical devices, with an emphasis on multiplexed bioanalysis. Major current focus areas include self-assembly of composite particles under the influence of gravity and developing new routes to incorporation of new materials and biomolecules onto silicon integrated circuit microchips.

Research Interests:


Partitioning of solutes in aqueous multiphase systems. Characterization of organic/inorganic hybrid materials.


Bioinspired materials chemistry. Experimental model systems for membraneless organelles and protocells.


Bioinspired materials chemistry. Synthesis and characterization of organic/inorganic composite particles.

Materials and Nanoscience

Directed self-assembly of colloidal particles.


Colloid and interface science, Biophysical chemistry