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Joanna Aizenberg elected member of National Academy of Engineering

Aizenberg honored for contributions to understanding biological systems and bioinspired material designs, which led to the launch of several startup companies focused on real-world problems

By Benjamin Boettner

(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) – Today, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) announced that Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). She is recognized for her exceptional “contributions to [the] understanding of biological systems and bioinspired materials design”.

The NAE was founded in 1964 to promote excellence in the engineering profession and marshals the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on numerous projects involving the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life.

Joanna Aizenberg elected member of National Academy of Engineering
Joanna Aizenberg is elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Aizenberg, who is a Founding Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute and Lead of its Adaptive Material Technologies Initiative, is a pioneer in the rapidly developing field of bioinspired materials science and engineering. She is also the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Material Sciences at SEAS, a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and a Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology.

Her work has uncovered unique architectural principles in various living organisms that enable the self-assembly of biological structures with high functionality. She has used these principles to solve complex materials and design problems and developed new materials for a variety of real-world applications in a number of medical and industrial areas. These include nanostructured materials that repel water droplets before they freeze and are resistant to biofouling; bioinspired periodic photonic structures that can adapt their colors; and dynamic and responsive surfaces that can sense and respond to changes in their environment, transduce different types of energy, and catch and release biomolecules on-demand.

In the course of her distinguished research career, Aizenberg has also become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and she is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Materials Research Society. She has received numerous awards, authored about 250 publications, and holds about 50 issued patents that helped create several startup companies.

Aizenberg will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on October 6, 2019. This year, the NAE has elected 86 new members and 18 foreign members into its ranks, which brings its total U.S. membership to 2,297 and the number of foreign members to 272.

Other Wyss Institute Faculty that have been appointed as NAE Fellows in previous years include Jennifer Lewis, Sc. D., George Church, Ph.D., James Collins, Ph.D., David Weitz, Ph.D, Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D., David Mooney, Ph.D., and David Walt, Ph.D..

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