posted October 9, 2006

Lecture to Link Geckos and Nanotechnology

A lecture at Hope College will trace how the gecko's gravity-defying climbing ability has inspired valuable advances in nanotechnology.

The address, "Geckos: Biological Inspiration for Novel Adhesives and Climbing Robots," will be presented on Friday, Oct. 13, at 4 p.m. in room 102 of VanderWerf Hall by Dr. Kellar Autumn of Lewis and Clark College. The event is scheduled as the second annual Gentile Interdisciplinary Lectureship at Hope.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Autumn, who is an associate professor of biology at Lewis and Clark College, led a research team that discovered that a gecko's toe adheres to surfaces by a nanostructure rather than by chemical glue, leading to the development of synthetic adhesive nanostructures with a variety of applications. In his address he will review the past and current research on the gecko adhesive, and will also discuss some of his team's recent collaborations with engineers in developing legged climbing robots for space exploration and search-and-rescue work. He will also consider the relationship of basic research - the curiosity-based advancement of knowledge for its own sake - to advances in applied science and engineering.

Autumn received his B.A. in mathematics and biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1988, and his Ph.D. in integrative biology at UC Berkeley in 1995. He continued at Berkeley as an Office of Naval Research Postdoctoral Fellow until 1998, the same year he joined the faculty of Lewis and Clark College, located in Portland, Ore.

The Gentile Interdisciplinary Lectureship at Hope was established in 2005 by faculty colleagues, former students and friends of Dr. James Gentile. Gentile joined the Hope faculty in 1976 and served as dean for the natural sciences from 1988 to 2005, when he became president of Research Corporation, a private foundation in Tucson, Ariz., that supports basic research in the physical sciences.

VanderWerf Hall is located on the south side of 10th Street between Central and College avenues.