Public Release: 

Wyss Institute researcher elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Joanna Aizenberg honored for contributions to bioinspired materials science and engineering

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard


IMAGE: This is a photo of Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. view more

Credit: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

BOSTON, April 23, 2014 -Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious honor society and a leading center for independent policy research. She and the other 203 new members include some of the world's most accomplished scientists, scholars, writers, artists, and civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders.

"Joanna and her team have been following Nature's lead to produce one valuable, groundbreaking material after another," said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. "We are proud of her contributions to science and a sustainable society, and it's clear that we are not alone."

Aizenberg is well known as a pioneer in the rapidly growing field of bioinspired materials science and engineering. She focuses on understanding the unique architectural principles that enable living organisms to shape structures with useful functions.

These principles can help reveal economical ways to solve complex materials and design problems, and Aizenberg and her colleagues use them to guide the development of advanced adaptive materials and devices.

In recent years alone, this approach has yielded an ultraslippery coating called SLIPS that repels some of the stickiest substances known; an iridescent surface coating known as W-Ink that can directly detect contaminants or toxins in liquids; and a way to encrypt messages or create smart windows by stretching and wrinkling a piece of plastic. SLIPS and W-Ink received R&D 100 Awards in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

"I'm delighted to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and look forward to helping with their efforts to brainstorm practical solutions to society's most pressing challenges," said Aizenberg. In addition to her position at the Wyss Institute, she is Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Sciences at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

Founded in 1780, the Academy has elected leading "thinkers and doers" from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Margaret Meade and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the twentieth.

Aizenberg and the other new members were nominated and elected by current members, and they bring the academy's ranks up to 4,730 domestic fellows and 587 foreign honorary members. These ranks include more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 11, 2014, at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
Dan Ferber

About the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses Nature's design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Working as an alliance among Harvard's Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs. By emulating Nature's principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and new start-ups.

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