Currently, my main research interests cover silks and animal decision-making. By studying silks my group and I help to unravel a class of materials that are highly adapted to the many uses they perform. Spider silks are rather special and very interesting because of their use in webs. Their diversity and properties make these silks also very important materials for bio-inspired novel polymers. Studying spider web-building allows me to probe complex animal behaviour. The spider’s web is a structure build by the animal following inherited rules, and as such provide us with a perfect paradigm to study animal decision making. Insights gained are of interest to the emerging field of bio- (or soft-) robotics including R&D around autonomous vehicles.
My background is in Biology and Physics, with MSc and PhD in Freiburg, Post-Docs in Pamana and Oxfords followed by a junior Professorship in Basel CH, a chair in Aarhus DK and a Research professorship back in Oxford UK principally funded by the European Research Council and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research. In addition to my spider and silk research I work with the UK charity Save the Elephants to study elephant decisions often drawing on insights from my studies of spider web-building (see www.savetheelephants.org).