Prof. Valentine 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 Dept. of Biological Sciences, supported by a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. In 2008, she joined the UCSB faculty. As a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, she leads an interdisciplinary research group that investigates many aspects of biophysics and biomechanics, from regulation of intracellular transport, to measurement of cell-generated forces, to design of novel biomaterials. Her major awards include an NSF CAREER Award for her work on neuron mechanics, and a Fulbright to study adhesion mechanics in Paris, France. She is an Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute, and a co-leader of an IRG on Resilient Multiphase Soft Materials within the UCSB Materials Research Laboratory, an NSF MRSEC.
Prof. Valentine’s experimental lab focuses on understanding how forces are generated and transmitted in living materials, how these forces control cellular outcomes, and how we can capture the extraordinary features of living systems in manmade materials. This highly interdisciplinary work lies at the intersection of engineering, physics, and biology. Using a wide variety of experimental techniques, she investigates the biophysical and biochemical origins of cellular mechanics, including: precision optical trapping to probe single motor and crosslinking proteins; micromechanical manipulation of cytoskeletal networks; advanced fluorescence imaging of the self-assembly of large protein complexes; and direct manipulation of cells, tissues, and organisms. These experiments are complemented by the development of 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.