Graduate Student Training

CBIMMS has established a graduate admissions program for a certificate in Biological and Biologically Inspired Materials. This program was initiated as a result of a successful award from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT). The IGERT program seeks to train PhD scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background and the technical, professional and personal skills needed to address the global questions of the future. Through the use of innovative curricula and internships, and by focusing on problem-centered training, these programs give their graduates the edge needed to become leaders in their chosen fields.

Due to the recognized strength of the life sciences at Duke University, an opportunity exists to establish a premier program in the materials science of biological and biologically inspired materials. There are currently 30 Duke faculty and staff involved in this program spanning three schools: Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, and School of Medicine. Participating departments include: Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; Civil Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering; Chemistry; Physics; Biology; Cell Biology; Pathology; and Immunology.

Each graduate student enrolled in this program will undergo an intensive two-year educational training period supplemented by required courses - an Introduction to Biologically Inspired Materials, a Biological Engineering Seminar Series, and an Advanced Materials Laboratory training series. A host of elective courses are offered, and students must take a minimum of five elective courses.

Relevance and Impact

Our new curriculum in biological materials will have considerable impact on a range of fields in both science engineering and education. With the current community emphasis on micro- and nano-scales, taking clues from biology is a prudent and essential step in deepening our understanding of the micro and nano, soft and wet, world that biology colonized and uses so well. There is an urgent need to elucidate the largely unexplored role of force in biology and to take advantage of the fundamental knowledge accrued by these studies to design new materials and material systems, ranging ten or more orders of magnitude, beginning at the nanometer. The ability to design based upon critical understanding spanning such length scales defines the engineering impact of the proposed program.