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Eric Dufresne



Living things organize materials into hierarchical and adaptive structures that no engineer can match.  A single white blood cell is too small to see with our naked eyes, but has more functionality than any robot.  The human brain still outperforms modern computers in many tasks.

At the same time, living things construct these complex systems with naturally abundant chemicals, environmentally friendly by-products, and relatively low energy budgets.  We need to learn from biological systems and develop more sustainable technologies.

Our lab is inspired by biological phenomena that either suggest novel routes to high-performance sustainable materials or push the limits of our understanding of the physics of soft materials.

We investigate these phenomena on two fronts.  On one side, we study living systems, typically with novel quantitative approaches.  On the other, we design synthetic systems that recapitulate the phenomena of interest.  We have found that integrating these complementary approaches offers a tremendous source of creative inspiration for both sides.  When all goes well, we not only achieve new insights into biology, but also articulate new strategies for materials design. 

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. 2000, University of Chicago

  • B.S., 1996, Yale University.