Megan T. Valentine directs an interdisciplinary research group focussed on understanding and enhancing the mechanical performance of biological and bioinspired materials. She received her B.S from Lehigh University, M.S. from UPenn and Ph.D. from Harvard, all in Physics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she was the recipient of a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. In 2008, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she now serves as the Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute, and a co-leader of an IRG on Resilient Multiphase Soft Materials within the UC Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory, an NSF MRSEC. Her major awards include an NSF CAREER Award for her work on neuron mechanics, and Fulbright Scholar Award to study adhesion mechanics in Paris, France. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Prof. Valentine’s experimental laboratory focuses on understanding how forces are generated and transmitted in living materials, how these forces control cellular outcomes, and how the features of living systems can be captured in manmade materials. This highly interdisciplinary work lies at the intersection of engineering, physics, and biology. Using a wide variety of experimental techniques, she investigates the biophysical and biochemical origins of cellular mechanics, primarily through the micromechanical manipulation and imaging of cytoskeletal networks, cells, tissues, and organisms. These experiments are complemented by the development of new classes of man-made materials that capture the extraordinary properties of living systems, including the ability to respond to stimuli, move, reconfigure and heal.