Professor Lewis received the honour during the School of Engineering graduation ceremony at the McEwan Hall on Wednesday 3 July 2019.
Best known for her research on colloidal assembly of ceramics and 3D printing of functional, structural and biological materials, Lewis is currently the Hansjörg Wyss Chair of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
Early academic career
Professor Lewis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1986 and earned a Sc.D. in ceramic science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991. She began her career as a materials scientist at MIT and at the University of Illinois, before moving to Harvard in 2013.
Professor Lewis has the unusual distinction of being an elected Member both of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor Lewis's research is concerned with the assembly of soft functional materials; work which draws on microfluidics, materials synthesis, complex fluids, and robotic assembly.
This hybrid approach has enabled her to architect new and innovative materials with potential uses in printed electronics, optical and structural metamaterials, soft robotics, and 3D vascularized tissues and organs. One example of Professor Lewis's work, is ‘Octobot’, the world’s first autonomous, entirely soft robot.
She also holds 11 patents, for inventions as diverse as methods to 3D print functional human tissue and microbattery cells.
Architect of the ‘new engineering’
In his laureation speech, the School’s Professor Christopher Hall spoke of Professor Lewis’s “remarkable achievement [in combining] a deep knowledge of soft materials – the stuff of biology – with new methods of fabrication based on 3D-printing to create highly original devices drawing inspiration from biology and medicine.
“In her work we see the beginnings of a new field of soft engineering, still in its infancy.”
Following the graduation, Professor Lewis attended a dinner at Old College where she was presented with an engraved silver salver by Head of School Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh.