(Originally published by Harvard Univesity)
November 28, 2012
Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS).
A pioneer in studying how living things create inorganic materials, and what those biological processes might teach engineers, Aizenberg plays many critical roles across Harvard. In addition to her position at SEAS, she is Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology; Director of the Science Program for the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology; and a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
Awarded on the recommendation of the APS' Division of Condensed Matter Physics, the Fellowship recognizes Aizenberg's "research in biomineralization and the control of templated nucleation and growth of crystals."
In short, Aizenberg's research takes inspiration from the products of evolution. In her lab, the body of the brittle star, covered in tiny lenses, suggests new types of optical materials. The strong glass skeleton of the sea sponge can help improve architecture.
Similarly, the hairs and goosebumps on our skin have pointed the lab toward dynamic artificial materials that respond to their environment. The slick surface of the pitcher plant has inspired a friction-free surface that repels liquids, ice, and biofilms; and the camouflage of the cuttlefish may soon lead to new types of color-tunable materials.
Aizenberg and her research group have developed new nanofabrication processes, advanced the study of self-assembling materials, and created bio-inspired synthetic materials with diverse and important everyday applications.
Election to Fellow in the APS is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership, so the Fellowship represents a prestigious recognition by one's own peers of outstanding contributions to physics.
Awarded in November, the APS Fellowship takes effect immediately and will be announced in the March 2013 issue of APS News.