Top-Down and Bottom-Up Engineering Approaches to Understand and Build Adaptive Materials and Systems

The human body exhibits orders of magnitude more complexity than sophisticated engineered systems such as the international space station or modern surgical operating theatres, which by design provide life supporting functions. This talk outlines multiscale (temporal and length scales) approaches that have been applied to decipher mechanisms underpinning the inherent complexity and adaptive capacity of the human body. Insights from the human body's emergent adaptive behaviour, combined with bottom up engineering approaches, have paved the way for a new era of adaptive materials and systems.


Professor Melissa Knothe Tate is an internationally recognised leader in the fields of multiscale mechanobiology as well as the development and clinical translation of novel technologies and materials.

She trained as a mechanical engineer, biologist and biomedical engineer at world leading institutions in Palo Alto, California and Zurich, Switzerland. Professor Knothe Tate had the luck and joy to find two wonderful mentors for her doctoral work, including a physicist cum jazz pianist (Prof. Peter Niederer) and a physician cum twin engine pilot (Prof. Stephan Perren). This auspicious start placed her in an ideal position to be recognised as one of Australia's most Innovative Engineers 2017 for her geospatial and navigation approaches (using Google Maps) to understand the cellular inhabitants of complex biosystems including the human hip. Ironically, prior to that, she was selected for the Christopher Columbus Foundation - U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chairman's Distinguished Life Sciences Award, recognising a "scientist who is making or has recently made a significant and positive contribution related to developing a 'cutting edge' innovation in the field of life sciences".

Her recognition as an elected Fellow of Engineers Australia, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society for Mechanical Engineering, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering give an indication of her recognition among peers in the top tier of the field. Mentoring and cultivation of talent and innovation are particularly important to Professor Knothe Tate, who has designed and debuted curricula to engineer innovation with cohorts as diverse as Indigenous children, Harvard engineering undergraduates, and doctoral trainees in multiscale modeling at University of Paris Est.

Date & time

12–1pm 4 Sep 2017


Room:Level 2, N224 Computer Systems Area


Professor Melissa Knothe Tate, PH.D.

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