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RAP opportunity at Naval Research Laboratory     NRL

Bio-inspired Design of Multi-Functional Materials


Naval Research Laboratory, DC, Chemistry

opportunity location
64.15.15.C0445 Washington, DC 203755321


name email phone
Kenan Fears 202.404.1923


Researchers have long looked to biology for inspiration because of the countless examples of organisms evolving elegant solutions to complex problems that humans have difficulty overcoming with engineered materials. For example, we recently discovered acorn barnacles, which have been studied for over 150 years because of the robustness of their cement, secrete a phase-separating material that efficiently removes tenacious biofilms ahead of growth and cement deposition.[1] However, replicating the intricate design and function of natural biomaterials has proven to be non-trivial. Accordingly, we have taken the approach of using a combination of analytical techniques to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms and biomolecular interactions that occur during biological processes of interest (e.g., barnacle cement formation [2]). Rather than simply mimicking nature, our goal is to forge novel materials to meet emerging bio- and nano-technological needs by borrowing and combining beneficial and disparate ideas from nature.[3]  

Applications should have demonstrated expertise in one or more of the following areas: biomaterials fabrication and characterization, molecular design and molecular dynamics, biophysical analysis, and/or biochemical analysis. Candidates should send a cover letter, CV, and at least one letter of recommendation to Dr. Kenan Fears ( Additional postdoctoral information can be found at

[1]  Fears, K. P., Orihuela, B., Rittschof, D., & Wahl, K. J. (2018). Acorn Barnacles Secrete Phase-Separating Fluid to Clear Surfaces Ahead of Cement Deposition. Advanced Science, 5(6), 1700762.

[2]  So, C. R., Yates, E. A., Estrella, L. A., Fears, K. P., Schenck, A. M., Yip, C. M., & Wahl, K. J. (2019). Molecular recognition of structures is key in the polymerization of patterned barnacle adhesive sequences. ACS Nano, 13(5), 5172-5183.

[3]  Fears, K. P., Kolel-Veetil, M. K., Barlow, D. E., Bernstein, N., So, C. R., Wahl, K. J., ... & Clark, T. D. (2018). High-performance nanomaterials formed by rigid yet extensible cyclic β-peptide polymers. Nature communications, 9(1), 1-8.

key words
peptide self-assembly; peptide nanotubes; de novo design; antimicrobial; antifouling; molecular dynamics; protein folding dynamics


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$94,199.00 $3,000.00
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