Megan Valentine

Megan Valentine

CNSI Associate Director, Professor
Mechanical Engineering
(805) 893-2594
Room 2361C, Engineering II Building


Megan T. Valentine directs an interdisciplinary research group focused on understanding and enhancing the mechanical performance of biological and bioinspired materials. She received her B.S from Lehigh University, M.S. from UPenn and Ph.D. from Harvard, all in Physics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she was the recipient of a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. In 2008, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she now serves as the Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute, and a co-leader of an IRG on Resilient Multiphase Soft Materials within the UC Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory, an NSF MRSEC. Her major awards include an NSF CAREER Award for her work on neuron mechanics, and Fulbright Scholar Award to study adhesion mechanics in Paris, France. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.


Prof. Valentine’s experimental laboratory focuses on understanding how forces are generated and transmitted in living materials, how these forces control cellular outcomes, and how the features of living systems can be captured in manmade materials. This highly interdisciplinary work lies at the intersection of engineering, physics, chemistry and biology. Using a wide variety of experimental techniques, she investigates the biophysical and biochemical origins of natural material mechanics, and translates this knowledge to create new classes of man-made materials that capture the extraordinary properties of living systems, including the ability to respond to stimuli, move, reconfigure and heal.

Selected Publications

Serena Seshadri, Luke F. Gockowski, Jaejun Lee, Miranda Sroda, Matthew E. Helgeson, Javier Read de Alaniz, and Megan T. Valentine "Self-regulating photochemical Rayleigh-Bénard convection using a highly-absorbing organic photoswitch" Nature Communications 11:2599 (2020).

Luke F. Gockowski, Neil D. Dolinski, Roberto Chavez, Noy Cohen, Fabian Eisenreich, Stefan Hecht, Robert M. McMeeking, Craig J. Hawker, and Megan T. Valentine "Engineering crack tortuosity in polymer-polymer composites through ordered pores" Materials Horizons 7: 1854-1860 (2020).

Thomas R. Cristiani, Emmanouela Filippidi, Rachel L. Behrens, Megan T. Valentine, and Claus D. Eisenbach. “Tailoring the Toughness of Elastomers by Incorporating Ionic Cross-Linking” Macromolecules 53(10): 4099-4109 (2020).

Bugra Kaytanli, Aimal H. Khankhel, Noy Cohen, and Megan T. Valentine "Rapid analysis of cell-generated forces within a multicellular aggregate using microsphere-based traction force microscopy" Soft Matter 16: 4192-4199 (2020).

Liam P. Dow, Aimal H. Khankhel, John Abram, and Megan T. Valentine “3D-printable cell crowding device enables imaging of live cells in compression” BioTechniques 68(5) 275-278 (2020).

Noy Cohen, J. Herbert Waite, Robert M. McMeeking, and Megan T. Valentine "Force distribution and multiscale mechanics in the mussel byssus" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 374 (1784) 20190202 (2019).

Emmanouela Filippidi, Thomas R. Cristiani, Claus D. Eisenbach, J. Herbert Waite, Jacob N. Israelachvili, B. Kollbe Ahn, and Megan T. Valentine "Toughening elastomers using mussel-inspired catechol-iron complexes" Science 358 (6362) 502-505 (2017).

Nicholas A. Zacchia and Megan T. Valentine. "Design and optimization of arrays of neodymium iron boron-based magnets for magnetic tweezers applications" Review of Scientific Instruments 86 053704 (2015).

Yali Yang, Mo Bai, William S. Klug, Alex J. Levine and Megan T. Valentine. "Microrheology of highly crosslinked microtubule networks is dominated by force-induced crosslinker unbinding," Soft Matter 9 383-393 (2013).

Jun Lin and Megan T. Valentine. "High-force NdFeB-based magnetic tweezers device optimized for microrheology experiments," Review of Scientific Instruments 83 053905 (2012).