Michael Bartlett, from White Lake, Michigan received his B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. As an undergrad, Mike was awarded the Brian D. Worth scholarship, in addition to many more, from the Materials Science Department. While there, he worked on the fabrication and mechanical characterization of carbon nanotube based polymeric nanocomposites. Mike also participated in two summer internships in the research and development division at Rogers Corporation working on stimuli-responsive polymeric foams for impact applications. Mike states that "these experiences opened my eyes to the excitement and challenges of research, and encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D."
When asked to expound on the many reasons why he made the decision to come to Amherst, Mike explained, "The first was the high caliber faculty and facilities, both of which are well known and respected not only in polymer science, but in materials science in general. Secondly, when I visited Amherst, I absolutely loved the area. From the numerous cycling or hiking opportunities to the unique culture here in the Pioneer Valley, I knew I could perform world class research and enjoy extracurricular activities."
Mike works in Professor Al Crosby's lab in the area of gecko-inspired adhesion. The focus of his research is to understand how both natural and synthetic adhesive interfaces display high capacity and easy release. The group has developed a simple scaling theory which connects both natural and synthetic gecko-inspired adhesives across many length scales. They used this theory to guide the development of Geckskin™, an adhesive which can hold 700 lbs with an index card sized adhesive pad, yet be released with a gentle tug.
As a graduate student, Mike has received the UMass Graduate Student Travel Grant, as well as a Gecko Workshop Travel Grant. Mike was able to travel to the Leibnitz Institute for New Materials (INM) in Saarbrücken, Germany to participate in the Gecko Workshop. The focus of the workshop was to bring the leaders in the field of gecko-inspired adhesion together to share ideas and develop new collaborations.
Commenting on this research, Mike added, "I have really enjoyed working on gecko-inspired adhesion. The interdisciplinary nature of my project has allowed me to gain knowledge not only in polymer science, but also in biology. It has fundamental and applied aspects, and has intrigue for both scientists and the general public. These features have helped the project gain international scientific and media attention." For more information on this project, visit Crosby Group Research.