The University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering is pleased to announce the arrival of Dr. Steven Naleway. Naleway’s multidisciplinary research focuses upon the development of advanced materials, designs and science that is motivated by nature and natural systems through the process of bioinspiration.

Naleway completed his doctorate in materials science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego, in 2016 and his master’s in materials science and bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University in 2013 and 2011, respectively.

“True inspiration in science and engineering is very difficult.” Naleway says. “Luckily the natural world, through evolution, can provide us with hundreds of millions of years’ worth of design experience to inspire advanced engineering and science.”

In many cases, biological materials are capable of providing impressive mechanical properties while limited to a small number of biopolymer (e.g. collagen, keratin, chitin) and biomineral (e.g. calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, silica) constituents. This is often actuated through, amongst other qualities, complex and hierarchical structuring at multiple length scales.

Mimicking these designs with advanced materials and fabrications processes such as 3-D printing, fiber composite layup and freeze casting (or ice templating), and modern materials can lead to innovative and efficient solutions to modern engineering questions. To do this requires collaborations with biologists along with a deeper understanding of the natural structures through the field of biological materials science.

“Biological materials science,” Naleway explains, “utilizes the tools and techniques available in the fields of engineering, chemistry, and physics to theoretically and physically dissect biological organisms and understand how they are able to thrive in their natural environments.”

This information forms the basis of many bioinspired designs while also allowing for a deeper understanding of the natural systems themselves. “It is great to be able to study and take inspiration from the amazing creatures in the natural world, while focusing on solving today’s difficult engineering and scientific problems,” adds Naleway.

Outside of academia, Naleway, his wife, and two dogs love to be outdoors, specifically hiking and canoeing. He is also an avid football and basketball fan, supporting teams from his native Oregon and around the Pacific Northwest.

More information about Naleway and his research group can be found at the webpage for the University of Utah Laboratory for Bioinspired Science and Engineering.