The University of Cambridge is an ancient university located in the United Kingdom. The university has accommodated many great historical names, including Newton, Darwin and Maxwell, and, more recently 121 Nobel Laureates. Unusually the University is composed of 31 autonomous colleges, some ancient and some modern, which each host individual communities of students and faculty. The Cambridge University Engineering Department is a large integrated department located in the city center. Specifically, the ESR will join the Oatley laboratory, which houses numerous theoretical, computational and experimental researchers working at the intersection of mechanics, materials and biology. The ESR will also be closely associated with the theory of condensed matter group in the physics department (Cavendish Laboratory), a celebrated theory/computation group specializing in statistical mechanics, many body quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and biophysics.
John Biggins is a lecturer (≈ assistant professor) of applied mechanics at Cambridge University. John originally studied theoretical physics at Cambridge, and conducted research at Harvard and Caltech prior to his current appointment in Cambridge Engineering. His expertise centers on the theoretical and computational mechanics of soft solids, including gels, elastomers, and biological tissues. In particular, John’s research group work on the deformation and actuation of liquid crystal elastomers, and on mechanical instabilities in soft solids such as buckling, wrinkling and folding. He is perhaps best known for the mechanical theory for the formation of the folds on the human brain and his explanation of the viral you-tube video of a “chain-fountain”. In 2020 John was awarded a prestigious UKRI Future leaders fellowship, to work on deploying LCEs as artificial muscles in soft mechanical devices. As part of this award, he is currently establishing a lab, to complement his group’s theoretical and computational approaches.