Brown Professor Huajian Gao Receives Humboldt Research Award

Huajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering at Brown University, has received a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany. Award winners are invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. Professor Dr. Joachim P. Spatz nominated Professor Gao and is hosting him during his research in the Department of Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg.

The award is granted in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

“This is a great award for Professor Gao,” said Dean Larry Larson. “He is one of the leading researchers and professors in his field, and that continues to be recognized on both a national and international level. We are fortunate to have him at Brown.”

Professor 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, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1994 and to full professor in 2000. He was appointed as Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany between 2001 and 2006. He joined Brown University in 2006. Professor Gao has a background in applied mechanics and engineering science. He has more than 25 years of research experience and more than 300 publications to his credit. In February of 2012, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Professor Gao’s research group is generally interested in understanding the basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviors of both engineering and biological systems. His current research includes studies of how metallic and semiconductor materials behave in thin film and nanocrystalline forms, and how biological materials such as bones, geckos, and cells achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy.


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