The Aizenberg Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab

The Aizenberg Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab

Home Research Publications Group Members News Affiliations

Prof. Joanna Aizenberg


Joanna Aizenberg pursues a broad range of research interests that include biomineralization, biomimetics, self-assembly, crystal engineering, surface chemistry, nanofabrication, biomaterials, biomechanics and biooptics.

She received the B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1981, 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.

In 1998 Aizenberg joined Bell Labs as a member of the Technical Staff where she has made several pioneering contributions including developing new biomimetic approaches for the synthesis of ordered mineral films with highly controlled shapes and orientations, and discovering unique optical systems formed by organisms (microlenses and optical fibers) that outshine technological analogs, and characterized the associated organic molecules. In 2007 Aizenberg joined the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Professor Aizenberg's research is aimed at understanding some of the basic principles of biomineralization and the economy with which biology solves complex problems in the design of functional inorganic materials. She then uses biological principles as guidance in developing new, bio-inspired synthetic routes and nanofabrication strategies that would lead to advanced materials and devices. Aizenberg is one of the pioneers of this rapidly developing field of biomimetic inorganic materials synthesis.

"In the course of evolution, Nature has developed strategies that endow biological processes with exquisite selectivity and specificity, and produce superior materials and structures," says Aizenberg. "This is wonderfully exemplified in the realm of inorganic materials formation by organisms, so-called 'biomineralization'. Learning from and mastering Nature's concepts not only satisfies humankind's insatiable curiosity for understanding the world around us, but also promises to drive a paradigm shift in modern materials science and technology."

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • 2007-Present: Faculty Member

Bell Laboratories, Lucent Techologies
  • 1998-2007: Researcher, Nanotechnology Research Department

Harvard University, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  • 1996-1998: Postdoctoral Associate with Professor George M. Whitesides

Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Synchrotron Light Source
  • 1993-1995: Visiting Scientist

Moscow Institute of Geology, Moscow, USSR
  • 1986-1991: Researcher

Institute of Mining and Raw Materials, Moscow, USSR
  • 1984-1985: Chemist


  • B.S., 1981, Chemistry, Moscow State University

  • M.S., 1984, Physical Chemistry, Moscow State University

  • Ph.D., 1996, Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science

Other Experience

  • Director of Science Programs, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, 2010-2013

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Materials
    Research Society (MRS)

  • Member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the
    National Academies

  • Member of the Advisory Board of Langmuir
    and Chemistry of Materials

Awards and fellowships

2014Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 2014
2014Materials Research Society Fellow, February 2014
2014Alexander M. Cruickshank Award Lectureship, Biointerface Science Gordon Research Conference, June 2014
2013R&D 100 Award for Top Technology and Innovation in 2013
2013Fellow of the American Physical Society, March 2013
2013Hood Fellowship, University of Auckland, NZ, February 2013
2012R&D 100 Award for Top Technology and Innovation in 2012
2012Karcher & Barton distinguished lectureship, U Oklahoma, November 2012
2012Franklin Award Lectureship, RiceUniversity, January 2012
2011Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award Lectureship, University of Zurich, October 2011
2011The 2011 Sproull Lecturer, Cornell University
2011Dow Foundation Distinguished Lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara
2011WISEST Visiting Scholar, University of Illinois - Chicago
2011Etter Memorial Lectureship in Chemistry, University of Minnesota,
2011The Woodward Lecturer in the Chemical Sciences, Harvard University
2011Distinguished Herbert Morawetz Lectureship, NYU-Poly
2010W. J. Chute Distinguished Lectureship in Chemistry, Dalhousie University
2010Molecular Foundry Distinguished Lectureship, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, Berkeley
2010The Eastman Chemical Company Award Lectureship, Goodyear Polymer Center, University of Akron
2010Distinguished Lectureship at the Bio-X "Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences" series at Stanford University
2010Jerome B. Cohen Distinguished Lectureship, Northwestern University
2010Distinguished Naff Lectureship, University of Kentucky
2008Ronald Breslow Award for the Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry, ACS
2007Industrial Innovation Award, American Chemical Society
2006Outstanding Women Scientists Award, Indiana University
2005Lucent Chairmanís Award
2005Pedersen Award Lecture, DuPont
2004ACS PROGRESS Lectureship Award, University of Wisconsin at Madison
2003Distinguished Women Scientists Lectureship, University of Texas at Austin
2001New Investigator Award in Chemistry and Biology of Mineralized Tissues
1999Arthur K. Doolittle Award of the American Chemical Society (ACS)
1995Award of the Max-Planck Society in Biology and Materials Science, Germany

For a complete list of Joanna's publications click here.

Address:Pierce 229
9, Oxford St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone:(617) 495-3558
Fax:(617) 496-2988 (Lab)

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
29 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Copyright © by Prof. J. Aizenberg, A. Grinthal and M. Kolle 2011
This website was last updated in the section
"Research topics: Slippery surfaces at 21:34:07 on 04-07-2016.