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Duncan J Irschick is an integrative biologist interested in the evolution and ecology of animal athletics. His research on gecko adhesion and animal movement has garnered international acclaim and many honors and awards.
He has published 115 papers on animal function and evolution, and in 2008 was called one of the "Best Brains in America" by the Discovery Channel. Most recently, he gave a TEDx talk at the Sorbonne in Paris in 2012 in the conference entitled "The New Age of Enlightenment", and was chosen as the Hilgendorf Lecturer for the University of Tubingen in Germany, and the OCIB plenary lecturer for Carelton College in Canada. He was also honored as a Fullbright Specialist by the Fullbright Foundation in 2012, has served as a consultant for Pixar, and has invited to 60 talks for Universities all over the world.
Duncan Irschick has received generous funding from NIH, NSF, and private foundations, and has received substantial media attention in books, newspapers, the Internet media and on television. Examples include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNET.org, CNN, the Discovery Channel, MSNBC.com, and FOXNEWS.com.
As an example of his work, he has recently collaborated with Al Crosby from the Polymer Sciences Dept at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to apply evolutionary and anatomical principles towards the creation of a novel gecko-like adhesive. In February of 2012, they, along with Mike Bartlett, Dan King, and others, published a paper in the journal Advanced Materials that described GeckskinTM, a synthetic adhesive that mimics gecko feet. GeckskinTM is capable of holding more than 700 lbs (300 kg) on smooth surfaces (e.g., glass), yet is easily removable, and leaves no residue. GeckskinTM has been hailed as a breakthrough because of its ability to provide powerful, removable and reusable adhesion at large sizes.
Currently, Duncan is a Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the USA.
Some random quotes attributed to Duncan Irschick or to those next to him:
"Life is short, time to dive with Tiger sharks" (an off-the cuff remark in the spirng of 2012 when attempting to justify his first tiger shark dive)
"Life is just a side-project" (Muttered in the dreary days of gathering DNA sequences as a graduate student at Washington University of St. Louis; this quote would soon spread like wildfire through the department, and linger in the halls for many years, bringing a sense of solace to overworked students)
"I hate weekends" (attributed to Duncan as an undergraduate when asked about the possibility of working on weekends; needless to say, this endeared him to his future boss)
"No dad work" (as told to Duncan by his 2-year old son Darwin when I suggested I go to work...guess not!)