Pena-Francesch receives Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Recent Ph.D. graduate Abdon Pena-Francesch (’17 ESMCH) has been awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.

Humboldt Research Fellowships enable postdoctoral researchers who completed their doctorates less than four years ago to carry out long-term research (up to 24 months) with academic hosts in German research institutions. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host.

Pena-Francesch has selected the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems as his host institution, where he will conduct research on smart biological materials for small-scale soft robotics in the institute’s physical intelligence department for 24 months.

While at Penn State, Pena-Francesch was a member of the research group led by Melik Demirel, professor of engineering science and mechanics and director of the Center for Research on Advanced Fiber Technologies. Pena-Francesch’s research focused on structural proteins inspired in cephalopods, and the engineering of protein materials with programmable thermal, mechanical, optical and conducting properties. His work in biomimetics has led to the development of bioadhesives and self-healing materials with applications in biomedicine and bioelectronics.

The Humboldt Foundation grants approximately 500 Humboldt Research Fellowships to postdoctoral researchers and experienced researchers annually. Each year, it enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany, while maintaining a network of more than 28,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide—including 55 Nobel Laureates.


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Chris Spallino



The Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) is an internationally distinguished department that is recognized for its globally competitive excellence in engineering and scientific accomplishments, research, and educational leadership.

Our Engineering Science program is the official undergraduate honors program of the College of Engineering, attracting the University’s brightest engineering students. We also offer graduate degrees in ESM, engineering mechanics, engineering at the nano-scale, and an integrated undergraduate/graduate program.

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