The Materials Research Society’s Outstanding Young Investigator Award recognizes outstanding, interdisciplinary scientific work in materials research by a young scientist or engineer who shows exceptional promise as a developing leader in the materials area. This year’s award will be presented to Markus J. Buehler, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “for highly innovative and creative work in computational modeling of biological, bio-inspired and synthetic materials, revealing how weakness is turned into strength through hierarchical material design.” Buehler will deliver his talk, From Atoms to Structures—Turning Weakness into Strength, at the 2012 MRS Spring Meeting on Tuesday, April 10, at 6:00 p.m. in the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. He will be presented with the 2012 Outstanding Young Investigator Award at the MRS Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m., also in the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.
Buehler’s contributions bridge disciplines to explain the mechanical properties of structural biological materials in both normal physiological and disease states using an innovative bottom-up approach that combines simulation with experiment. By focusing on the link between the atomistic, the meso-, and the macroscale, his work has furthered the understanding of the mechanisms of injury and disease by probing how structural changes (e.g., genetic mutations and other molecular defects) alter materials properties, and by providing a materials science foundation to disease mechanisms (e.g., brittle bone disease). His approach enables the investigation of different biological and synthetic materials with the same technique and without reliance on empirical efforts.
Buehler received his Dr. rer. nat. (PhD equivalent) degree in 2004 from the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and joined MIT in 2005 after a postdoctoral scholarship at the California Institute of Technology. He has served as director of the MIT-Germany Program and as group leader of the Mechanics and Materials Division in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT since 2010, and in 2011 was named co-director of the MIT Computation for Design and Optimization Program. Buehler received the MRS Graduate Student Gold Award in 2004, and has since received numerous additional honors, including the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award, the Alfred Noble Prize, and the Leonardo Da Vinci Award. Most recently, he received the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award for exceptional distinction in teaching and in research or scholarship—the highest honor bestowed on young MIT faculty. Buehler serves MRS in a number of capacities, including judge and chair of the MRS Graduate Student Awards subcommittee, volunteer writer for MRS Bulletin, and lead organizer of various MRS Meeting symposia. He has published more than 175 articles on computational materials science, nanotechnology and nanoscience, authored two monographs, and serves on the editorial board of numerous publications.