Menaka Wilhelm

2017 AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellow

University of California at Santa Barbara, Mechanical Engineering
Fellowship Sponsor: Heising-Simons Foundation
Fellowship Site: WIRED Magazine

In my graduate research, I study marine mussels' adhesive plaques. Mussels use a system of plaques and threads to anchor themselves in the tide, and I’m looking for ways that the architecture of these soft materials contributes to their toughness and strength. Besides spending time with bivalves, I lead materials science experiments at local elementary schools with UCSB’s Family Ultimate Science Experience, and help run a student group, Graduate Students for Diversity in Science, to promote inclusion within STEM fields.

Although my current focus is in biomaterials, I’ve had lots of fun meandering through different research fields. I’ve examined environmental and social impacts of cellphones, pondered hummingbird flight mechanics, broken solar panels, and assisted with cadaver studies of biomedical devices. I’m thrilled to spend the summer reporting a wide variety of science at WIRED Magazine in San Francisco.

Fellowship publications at WIRED Magazine

6/22/2017          Exoskeletons Don't Come One-Size-Fits-All ... Yet

6/25/2017          Watch SpaceX Launch Its Second Rocket in 48 Hours

7/03/2017          The Popsicle's Origin Story Starts in a Test Tube

7/12/2017          Scientists Inject Ferrets Brains with Rabies to Study...Vision?

7/13/2017          Soft Sensors Might Make Wearables Actually Wearable

7/17/2017          Big Pharma Buys Into Crowdsourcing for Drug Discovery

7/20/2017          Tuna Fish School Human Engineers in Hydraulics

7/26/2017          The Tricked-Out Research Planes That Fly Through Wildfires

7/28/2017          What Gene-Swapping Cheese Microbes Could Say About Antibiotic Resistance

8/01/2017          A Lake-Dwelling Robot Fights Toxic Algae Blooms

8/04/2017          Blood from MERS Virus Survivors May Help Target Treatments

8/07/2017          Pick Better Guide Dogs By Watching Hours of Cute Puppy Videos

8/09/2017          What a Mouse’s Mixed-Up Taste Buds Say About the Brain

8/25/2017          The IUD That Gives Women Options