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Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Kellar Autumn

Professor of Biology

Biology-Psychology Hall

Professional Experience

Professional Accomplishments:

  • Founded new sub-field of research: gecko adhesion / adhesive nanostructures at the interface between biology, physics, and materials science.
  • Discovered that geckos stick to walls with intermolecular van Waals forces (PNAS 2002).
  • Discovered that gecko foot-hairs are the first self-cleaning adhesive known to science (PNAS 2005)
  • Discovered that gecko setae are a “smart adhesive” controlled mechanically not chemically (Nature 2000).
  • Invented and patented first biologically-inspired design for gecko-like dry adhesive nanostructures, “gecko glue”. US Patents #6,737,160 and #7,011,723.
  • Discovered that geckos use only 1/3 as much energy to move as do other animals with legs.
  • Challenged common assumption that evolution produces optimal designs. Showed that adaptation often produces suboptimal designs.


General Research Interests:

  • Biomechanics, physiology, and evolution of animal locomotion
  • Adhesive biomaterials in geckos and other animals
  • Biological inspiration for novel engineering designs.

Academic Credentials

PhD 1995 University of California at Berkeley, BA 1988 University of California at Santa Cruz