Alfred Crosby, polymer science and engineering, was recently named a 2015 fellow of the American Physical Society, “for establishing a research program on nature-inspired materials that has gained a worldwide reputation while making a significant and broad impact on the fields of materials science, mechanics and biology.”
Crosby’s election, a recognition by his peers of “outstanding contributions to physics,” will be announced in an upcoming issue of APS News and on its website. He joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 2002 and established a research program on nature-inspired materials that has gained a worldwide reputation. He has more than 15 patents awarded or pending and has written over 100 scientific publications.
In perhaps his most high-profile work, Crosby, with doctoral students Michael Bartlett, Dan King and postdoctoral researcher Andrew Croll, in 2012 invented Geckskin. It is a gecko-inspired adhesive material composed of soft, natural rubber impregnated into stiff natural fiber fabrics. A Geckskin pad about the size of a human hand is a powerful adhesive that can hold a maximum force of 675 pounds while maintaining easy release. It can be reused and repositioned many times without loss of performance. Geckskin is the subject of several high-impact publications, patents awarded and pending, and a company, Felsuma, LLC, co-founded by Crosby and Duncan Irschick, biology, in April 2013 to commercialize the technology.
Department chair David Hoaglund said of Crosby’s award, “This honor is well-deserved, reflecting a raft of important scientific discoveries made by Crosby and his students at UMass Amherst over the last decade. Crosby is a widely recognized world leader in several areas of polymer physics, and his innovations, such as Geckskin, have the potential to impact not just technology but everyday human life. The most distinct aspect of Crosby’s work is his inter-disciplinarity, with lessons from the natural world cleverly translated in manufactured materials, a strategy that has led to properties in these materials never before seen.”