Junior Fellow

Harvard Society of Fellows

Harvard University

78 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge MA

Phone: 617 820 4811

Office : 617 253 0748

Fax    : 617 253 7035

Email : mprakash at

manup at

manup at


Starting from genetic blueprints, biological materials turn into complex, multi-compartmental living things with algorithmic precision. A fundamental difference between biological and physical materials is their inherent computational ability. One of my long-term research goals is to achieve programmable means of organizing and manipulating soft-matter in engineered systems. As a first step towards achieving this goal, I have invented a new paradigm in computation where bits can simultaneously transport and manipulate both materials and information, similar to how integrated circuits allow us to control flow of electrons. I am currently pursuing several novel applications of this technology in diverse fields ranging from large-scale biological automation to digitally programmable materials.  

Recently, driven by my interests in physical biology, I have also pursued a parallel track of research in bio-fluid mechanics. This cross-pollination of fields has led me to two new discoveries; propulsion by directional adhesion in water-walking insects and capillary ratchets in shorebirds. Learning from life’s devices, in the near future, I intend to develop engineering applications for novel biological mechanisms and concurrently interact with field biologists to get a better feel for how biology so often outsmarts us.





Capillary Ratchets, 
Science, May 2008
Microfluidic Bubble Logic
Science, Feb. 2007Research/Entries/2007/2/8_Bubble_Logic.htmlResearch/Entries/2007/2/8_Bubble_Logic.htmlResearch/Entries/2007/2/8_Bubble_Logic.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1
Transport Infant Incubators
ABC News With Robert Krulwich: Dolphin Bubbles
March 2009
TED Fellow 2010


Since July 2011, I have moved. I am a faculty at Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. My new web page is here.

TEDxGotham, NY Oct 15, 2011    
New Video: A popular science talk titled “Physical Entomology” for aspiring young naturalists out  there.   Research/Entries/2007/2/8_Bubble_Logic.html
The Hungry Fly: Hydrodynamics of feeding in insects
DFD Nov 21-23, 2010

News: Our entry “The Hungry Fly” just won the Gallery of Fluid Motion Prize at APS DFD 2010.
TED just announced its newly minted group of Senior Fellow 2011
New Video:  My year old TED talk from Feb 2010 just came online. Though too short, thought I will link it here for “Physics of Computation” history buffs and its connections to biology.