ENGINEERING NEWS

Sinan Keten Receives Navy Young Investigator Award

Keten is one of 36 to receive this year’s award

Sinan Keten, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and civil engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering, received a 2015 Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The Young Investigator Program is one of the oldest and most selective research advancement programs in the country.

Sinan KetenKeten, who studies the mechanics and dynamics of biological and bio-inspired systems, is one of 36 college and university faculty members to be named to the program this year. Candidates were selected from nearly 400 research proposals and based on merit and potential breakthrough advances for the Navy and Marine Corps. Collectively, awardees will receive $18.8 million in grants to fund research across a range of naval-related science and technology areas.

Keten plans to use his award to enhance the understanding of biofilms, which are able to attach to various surfaces — even when submerged. His research aims to accelerate efforts toward making biomolecular materials capable of underwater adhesion and molecular recognition.

“While biofilms’ mechanical tenacity and ability to attach to various surfaces is significant for many biological and environmental processes, their efficiency is surprisingly little understood,” Keten said. “The genetic engineering of bacteria in biofilms has opened up a new frontier in materials engineering, in which new biomolecular materials can now be manufactured using bacterial cellular machinery. Our project aims to establish the missing link between the bacterial genome and structure-property relationships of biofilm materials.”