Professor of Biology
Kellar Autumn’s research focuses on the mechanisms and evolution of animal locomotion, and on developing biologically inspired materials and machines. Autumn is best known for his discovery of the mechanism of adhesion of geckos. Autumn is the leader of the Gecko Team, a collaboration between L&C (Autumn), UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSB. In 2005, Autumn’s lab discovered that gecko setae are the first self-cleaning adhesive known to science. This work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. In 2002, the Gecko Team determined the molecular mechanism of adhesion in geckos. The team showed that geckos use a dry adhesion system that depends on van der Waals forces (Autumn et al. 2002), the cover story in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. These results suggest that gecko setae are a novel type of dry adhesive that depends more on geometry than on chemistry. In 2000, the Gecko Team determined the mechanical requirements for attachment and detachment in single isolated gecko setae (Autumn et al. 2000), published in the journal Nature. The gecko adhesive system is perhaps the first truly smart adhesive, with novel properties including a dry vdW mechanism, directionality, reversibility, mechanical control, self-cleaning, and dynamics. Autumn has begun to transfer these properties to the design and fabrication of synthetic gecko-inspired smart adhesives that may revolutionize adhesives and assembly techniques. Autumn’s work has been featured on every major television network and in hundreds of newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles worldwide.
Ph.D. 1995 University of California at Berkeley
B.A. 1988 University of California at Santa Cruz