Joanna Aizenberg, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to the NAE honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education, and to the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing or implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.

Aizenberg’s research explores the design principles that allow biological organisms to adapt to their changing surroundings.  Her lab studies glass structures in sea sponges, the lens-covered skeleton of brittlestars, and the slime on the top of bacterial colonies to elucidate the relationships between material structure and function.

Her achievements in materials synthesis have included the invention of the self-cleaning, self-healing Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS), and SMARTS: active materials that automatically and reversibly change their physical structure in response to chemical signals, triggering new chemical reactions on cue.

In addition to her role at SEAS, Aizenberg is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology; director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology, which is based at SEAS; and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. She is a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) and an affiliate of the BASF North American Center for Research on Advanced Materials, based at SEAS. She also participates in Harvard’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).

She received the B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1981 and the M.S. degree in Physical Chemistry in 1984 from Moscow State University, and the Ph.D. degree in Structural Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1996. She then went to Harvard University where she did postdoctoral research with George Whitesides on micro/nanofabrication and near-field optics.