Competition: US & Canada
Sheila Patek is a biologist who works at the interface of evolution and physics through research on fast movement and acoustic signaling. Her research revealed the extraordinarily fast strikes and explosive fluid mechanics of mantis shrimp, the wild jaw-jumping of trap-jaw ants, the visualization of fungal ballistospores and the violin-like stick-slip friction of acoustic spiny lobsters. Iteratively moving between the physical intricacies of these remarkable biological feats and the evolutionary diversity that can reveal their historic pathways, Patek probes the interplay between the rules of physics and the evolutionary dynamics that have generated the remarkable diversity of biological systems. The principles arising from this research have the potential to yield novel approaches and insights into evolution-based engineering design.
Patek received an A.B. from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Duke University and then held a postdoctoral fellowship from the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at the University of California Berkeley. Patek is currently an associate professor in the Biology Department at Duke University. She has received several honors, including the George A. Bartholomew Award for distinguished contributions to comparative physiology, a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and the Brilliant 10 award from Popular Science magazine. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Hellman Family Foundation, Armstrong Fund for Science, and others.
Follow this link for more information about the Patek lab’s research