Professor Gao from Brown University at Providence, Rhode Island, USA is an international authority in the field of solid mechanics, focusing on theoretical modeling of mechanical properties of materials and translating theories for synthetic to biological materials properties and behaviours.
His recent research is focused on the understanding of basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviours of materials in both engineering and biology. His group studies how metallic and semiconductor materials behave in thin film and nanocrystalline forms, and how biological materials such as bone, gecko and cell achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy. During his stay with the group of Professor Joachim Spatz, who is a member of CellNetworks, Professor Gao will study the behaviour of cells in contact with natural and synthetic interfaces. These studies will deepen the understanding for cellular responses in their given micro environments and how cells can be tailored to respond to it in a more specific manner.
Cells ingest things by engulfing them. When a long perpendicular fiber comes near, the cell senses only its tip, mistakes it for a sphere, and begins engulfing something too long to handle.
Huajian Gao received his B.S. degree from Xian Jiaotong University of China in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Engineering Science from Harvard University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He served on the faculty of Stanford University between 1988 and 2002, and as Professor and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Germany between 2001 and 2006. He is now Walter H. Annenberg University Professor of Brown University.
The Humboldt Research Award is dedicated to outstanding academics at the peak of their careers in order to stay with specialist colleagues in Germany. Professor Gao will stay in Germany from January 1 until July 31 2012 with the group of Professor Spatz, who heads a group on New Materials and Biosystems located both at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems at Stuttgart and at the Institute for Physical Chemistry at Heidelberg University. At Heidelberg, he will interact closely with the research groups of CellNetworks. In the summer term 2012, he will present a lecture on his work in the framework of the BioQuant seminar.