David Weitz elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Applied physicist honored for his contributions to engineering

David A. Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Weitz, an expert in the physics of soft condensed matter and an entrepreneur, is among 104 new members who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education and pioneered new and developing fields of technology.  Weitz is being honored for his discoveries of complex fluids, colloids, and emulsions, which have resulted in new products and companies. He is joining 15 other SEAS faculty members who are members of the NAE.

Weitz is the director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), an associate faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, a member of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology, and the co-director of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard.

Weitz and his group study the physics of soft condensed matter, materials easily deformed by external stresses, electric, magnetic or gravitational fields, and even thermal fluctuations. The group studies both synthetic and biological materials, with interests ranging from fundamental physics to technological applications and from basic materials questions to specific biological problems.

Weitz works closely with industry and co-founded and served on the board of directors for several start-ups including GnuBIO, which uses microfluidics for sequencing, HAbSel, which uses microfluidics to discover human antibodies and Raindance Technologies, which uses genomic tools for non-invasive liquid biopsy.

Weitz is also the co-creator of the popular Science and Cooking general education course at Harvard University.  

Weitz received his B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Waterloo and his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1999, he worked as a research physicist at Exxon Research and Engineering for nearly 18 years, leading the Interfaces and Inhomogeneous Materials Group and Complex Fluids Area, and held an appointment as a Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 9, 2016.

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