Plenary Speakers

Professor W. Gregory Sawyer

University of Florida  
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
231 MAE-A P.O. Box 116250
Gainesville, FL 32611

Presentation: "Tribology in Biomedicine"

W. Gregory Sawyer is the N.C. Ebaugh Chair and Professor in the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. He is also a Distinguished Teaching Scholar at the University of Florida. Greg has published over 150 journal papers, and has over 700 citations. His research interests have led to many adventures, from operating experiments (remotely) in space on the International Space Station to conducting experiments in vivo on a cornea.  

The human body is an extremely complex moving mechanical assembly of living tissue, with a myriad of contacting interfaces that enable biological function and healthy life from a blink to a heartbeat. By-and-large engineering to date has provided metal and plastic replacement alternatives for biological systems in need of repair. Today there is substantial enthusiasm for regenerative medicine, gene therapy, and other biological alternatives to the current state-of-the-art in medicine. These new biological approaches possess numerous tribological complexities that are often associated with system-level biological function. Exciting advances over the past decade enabled tribologists the opportunity to consider macroscopic interfaces in atomic and molecular terms.  These developments have entailed ultra-low force measurements that are sensitive to the rupture of single chemical bonds and friction measurements spatially resolved to the level of individual atoms. The opportunity now exists to address the role of tribological action within biological systems, seeking to characterize, understand, and exploit cellular interfaces and interactions on a molecular scale.

Soft biological materials are often used in applications that involve contact and relative motion. The cornea is prime example of a natural tribological system. The cornea is the optical portal to the visual system and it forms a dense, transparent connective tissue barrier that protects the eye. The cornea experiences approximately 8 million blinks per year.  Lubrication and maintenance of the proper cellular and extracellular matrix composition of the cornea is essential to its function. The external surface of the cornea is lined with a thin epithelium composed of 5-6 layers of fibroblastic cells that form a protective layer over the corneal stroma. These cells rapidly regenerate the epithelium following injury. This talk with present some new experiments that have measured the friction on living corneal epithelial cells under contact.

Professor Stanislav Gorb

University of Kiel
Professor of Zoology
Christian-Albrechts-Platz 4, 24118
Kiel, Germany

Presentation: "Snake Skin Tribology for Mechanisms of Friction and Wear Reduction Systems"

Stanislav Gorb studied Zoology at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev, Ukraine. He earned his doctorate in 1991 at the Schmalhausen Zoological Institute of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev, Ukraine. Following further research stays in Vienna, Kiev, Tübingen and Jena, he completed his habilitation at the Zoological Institute of Freiburg University. Subsequently, he spent several years at the Max Planck Institute of Metals Research in Stuttgart before he accepted the offer of a professorship in Functional Morphology and Biomechanics at Zoological Institute of Kiel University in 2008. He is a member of two faculties: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Faculty of Engineering.


Owing to the lack of extremities, the ventral body side of snakes is in almost continuous contact with the substrate. In spite of this, snakes are one of the most successful animal groups in occupying various ecological niches. From a tribology point of view, their ventral skin surface has to fulfill two opposite functions: (1) to support body propulsion during locomotion by generating high friction in contact with the substrate, and (2) to reduce skin material abrasion by generating low friction in forward-sliding along the substrate. The present lecture summarizes recent activities in studying anisotropic frictional properties of the snake skin and mechanisms of friction and wear reduction. Furthermore, possible ways to biomimetics of tribologically-optimized surfaces inspired by the snake skin are discussed.

TEDx Talk
"Mission Possible: Principles of Universal Adhesion" by Prof. Stanislav Gorb

Dr. Nicole Zander

US Army Research Laboratory
2800 Powder Mill Road
Adelphi, MD 20783-1138
Phone: (301) 394-3590

Presentation: "Additive Manufacturing Materials and Technologies"


Dr. Zander is a research chemist in the Polymers Branch at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Aberdeen, MD. Her current primary research interests are polymer processing, additive manufacturing, and nanofiber research in areas such as tissue engineering, antimicrobial materials and filtration. Her major focus is on the recycling of waste plastics and other materials into additive manufacturing feedstocks. She is part of a winning Marine Innovation Challenge team in which she is working on building a mobile laboratory that recycles plastics into filament for 3D printing. Before joining ARL, she worked as an analytical chemist at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center in Edgewood, MD.


With the constantly changing threat environment, the Army needs to be able to quickly adapt their tactics and equipment.  But burdensome and lengthy acquisition cycles make this challenging.  Additive manufacturing can potentially be utilized to overcome many of the challenges and enables on-demand manufacturing of repair parts, as well as rapid prototyping. Through topology optimization, parts can be designed lighter and/or stronger and more cost-effective.  In addition to new technologies being explored such as hybrid manufacturing in which entire metal and plastic devices can be fabricated within the same piece of equipment, a host of novel feedstocks are being developed such as multi-material thermoplastics and filled resins that further increase the range of properties of the 3D printed parts.  In addition to the research performed in Army laboratories, one of the major thrusts of current Army additive manufacturing research is the ability to manufacture at the point of need in remote environments.  Research at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is showing that agile, expeditionary manufacturing could be accomplished through the use of materials at or near to the location of our operating bases. These materials could include not only commercial feedstocks, but also the organic and inorganic materials naturally occurring in the area and recycled materials from the operating bases such as polymers, metals, and paper materials.  Distributed manufacturing could reduce the logistics tail needed to conduct wars on foreign soil, saving valuable resources and lives, and allowing the warfighter to perform the mission, instead of guarding and securing convoy transports.  In addition to reduced energy costs related to transportation, the operational readiness and self-sustainability of operating bases would be increased.