Markus J. Buehler

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Markus J. Buehler
Alma materUniversity of Stuttgart (BS)
Michigan Technological University (MS)
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems & University of Stuttgart (PhD)
Known forComputational materials science of biological materials, including: structural proteins such as collagen, silks and amyloids, intermediate filaments and synthetic peptide materials; nanoscience and nanotechnology (carbon and derived nanomaterials); sonification and musical composition; sci-art
AwardsPresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, National Science Foundation CAREER Award, National Academy of Engineering-Frontiers in Engineering, Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award (ASME), Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award (AIME), Sia Nemat-Nasser Award (ASME), Leonardo da Vinci Award (EMI), Stephen Brunauer Award (ACS), Alfred Noble Prize (ASCE), TMS Hardy Award, MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Award, Foresight Institute Feynman Prize (Theory), Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher; ASME Drucker Medal
Scientific career
FieldsMaterials Science, Engineering Science, Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Solid Mechanics, Biology, Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, Materiomics, Sonification, Composition, Sonification, Classical Music
InstitutionsCalifornia Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorHuajian Gao

Markus J. Buehler is an American materials scientist and engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he holds the endowed McAfee Professorship of Engineering chair.[1][2][3] He is a member of the faculty at MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he directs the Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics (LAMM),[4] and also a member of MIT's Center for Computational Science and Engineering (CCSE) in the Schwarzman College of Computing. His scholarship spans science to art, and he is also a composer of experimental, classical and electronic music, with an interest in sonification.[5][6][7] He has given several TED talks about his work.[8][9]

Between 2013 and 2020, he served as the Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT.[10] His research and teaching activities center on the application of a computational materials science approach to understand functional material properties in biological and synthetic materials, specifically focused on mechanical properties and nano-engineering of multiscale materials.

His work incorporates materials science, engineering, mathematics and the establishment of links between natural materials with the arts through the use of category theory.

Working at the interface of art and science, he is also a composer of music with an interest in sonification, whereby he developed a method to translate material structure into musical form and vice versa, realizing a materialization of sonic information in biomaterials protein design. He developed the materiomusical compositional technique.

In 2020, he set the pathogen of COVID-19 to music, exemplifying a relationship between art and science.[11][6][12][13][14]

Education and career[edit]

Before joining MIT in 2005, he served as the Director of Multiscale Modeling and Software Integration at Caltech’s Materials and Process Simulation Center in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Stuttgart and the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research after obtaining an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Michigan Tech, and undergraduate studies in Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Stuttgart.


Buehler has a background in materials science, engineering science and applied mechanics. Buehler's research focuses on bottom-up simulation of structural and mechanical properties of biological, bioinspired and synthetic materials across multiple scales, with a specific focus on materials failure from a nanoscale and molecular perspective, and on developing a fundamental understanding of how functional material properties are created in natural, biological and synthetic materials. He is best known for the use of simple computational models to explain complex materials phenomena in biology and engineering from a bottom-up perspective. His work on 3D printing explores the integrated computational-experimental design of novel materials, including the use of AI and AR/VR, and immersive modeling.[15][16]

His recent work has focused on applying a computational materials science approach to study materials failure in biological systems, including the investigation of material breakdown in a variety of diseases and other extreme conditions across multiple time- and length-scales. His key contributions lie in the field of deformation and failure of structural protein materials such as collagen and silk,[17][18] where his work revealed universal material design paradigms that enable protein materials to provide enhanced and diverse functionality despite limited resources (energy, material volume, weak building blocks such as H-bonds, etc.), and demonstrated how these mechanisms break down under extreme conditions and disease (impact, trauma, mutations, flaws, etc.).

The impact of his work has been the establishment of the universality-diversity paradigm, explaining how multifunctionality (diversity) of material properties in biology is achieved by changing structural arrangements of few (universal) constituents rather than inventing new building blocks, or through reliance of the quality of building blocks. Some of Buehler's current work[19] involves the use of ologs, a category-theoretic framework for knowledge representation, to encode the structure-function relationships inherent in hierarchical materials.

Buehler has published more than 450 articles, with more than 30,000 citations,[20] on theoretical and computational modeling of materials using various types of simulation methods, a monograph on atomistic modeling, a book on Biomateriomics, several book chapters, and has given hundreds of invited lectures, keynote talks and plenary speeches around the world. His work is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Materials, PNAS, Science Advances, Advanced Materials, Royal Society Interface, and many others.[20]

In a recent Stanford University study, he has been named as one of the world's highly ranked researchers in 2020, within the top 0.09% of all researchers in the nanoscience category.[21] He collaborates broadly with experimental researchers in the United States, Europe and Asia. He serves as a PI and co-PI on numerous research grants, including several interdisciplinary research projects funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and many other organizations as well as industrial partners.


His teaching at MIT focus on engineering mechanics and modeling and simulation, and on introducing undergraduate and graduate students to computational research. He teaches professional educational courses in areas of materials design, machine learning, and additive manufacturing.[22]

He has been involved in teaching MIT subjects 3.021J Introduction to Modeling and Simulation, 1.978 From nano to macro: Introduction to atomistic modeling techniques, 1.545 Atomistic Modeling of Materials and Structures and 1.050 Engineering Mechanics I. Buehler collaborates with MIT's IS&T department within the scope of the initiative "Bringing Research Tools into the Classroom", where is developing tools to enable simple use of multiscale simulation tools in teaching and education of undergraduate and graduate students. He is also actively participating in MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), where he serves as a faculty mentor. He is a faculty advisor in the MIT Summer Research Program and served as faculty advisor of the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Foundation.

He is the author of the textbooks Atomistic Modeling of Materials Failure[23] and Biomateriomics.[24] The former text focuses the mechanical properties of materials and the connections between atomistic and continuum theories while the latter is aimed at discussing hierarchical and motif structures in biological materials.


Buehler serves as editor or a member of the editorial board of several international journals including PLoS ONE, International Journal of Applied Mechanics, Biophysical Journal, Acta Mechanica Sinica, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Journal of Nanomechanics and Micromechanics, and the Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience. Since 2011 he serves as a co-Editor in Chief of BioNanoScience, a journal he co-founded. He was elected to the editorial board of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface in 2012.

He is the former chair of the Biomechanics Committee at the Engineering Mechanics Institute of the ASCE, Co-chair of the NanoEngineering in Medicine and Biology Steering Committee at the ASME, a member of the U.S. National Committee on Biomechanics, and participates in several other committees at ASME including the Committee on Mechanics in Biology and Medicine. He is also active in the Materials Research Society as volunteer writer for the MRS Bulletin, organizer of MRS symposiums, and through his involvement in the MRS Graduate Student Award program. Since 2010 he serves as the Director of the MIT-Germany Program (MISTI Germany). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.[25]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Buehler received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the United States Air Force Young Investigator Award, the Navy Young Investigator Award, and the DARPA Young Faculty Award. Buehler was invited to the National Academy of Engineering-Frontiers in Engineering symposium of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2023, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.[26] In 2009, his work was recognized by the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). He received the 2010 Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, the 2010 ASME Sia Nemat-Nasser Award, the 2011 Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award and the 2011 Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award. In 2011 he received the inaugural Leonardo da Vinci Award from EMI. His work was recognized with several other awards including the Alfred Noble Prize. In 2021, he received the ASME Drucker Medal.[27]


  1. ^ "Markus J. Buehler".
  2. ^ "Buehler named McAfee Professor". November 12, 2015.
  3. ^ Eisenhauer, Bertram. "Amerikas Hochschule M.I.T.: Die Mühen der Spitze".
  4. ^ LAMM [dead link]
  5. ^ "Markus J. Buehler". Spotify.
  6. ^ a b "Markus J. Buehler".
  7. ^ "MIT scientists translated spider webs into music. It could help us talk to them". CNN. April 14, 2021.
  8. ^ "If a virus could sing". July 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Turning sound into matter | Marcus Buehler | TEDxMIT". September 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Markus Buehler named head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering". May 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "Q&A: Markus Buehler on setting coronavirus and AI-inspired proteins to music". April 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Hotz, Robert Lee (June 26, 2020). "A Scientist Turned the Coronavirus into Music—Here's What It Sounds Like". Wall Street Journal.
  13. ^ "Scientists Turned Spiderwebs into Music, and It's Hauntingly Beautiful". April 12, 2021.
  14. ^ "Counterpoint: MIT scientists translate coronavirus protein structure into music". April 9, 2020.
  15. ^ "StackPath". January 10, 2020. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  16. ^ "Future Buildings Could be Made of Artificial Bone". NBC News. June 18, 2013.
  17. ^ Keten, S.; Xu, Zhiping; Ihle, B.; Buehler, M.J. (2010). "Nanoconfinement controls stiffness, strength and mechanical toughness of beta-sheet crystals in silk". Nature Materials. 9 (4): 359–367. Bibcode:2010NatMa...9..359K. doi:10.1038/nmat2704. PMID 20228820. S2CID 17713819.
  18. ^ Cranford, S.; Tarakanova, A.; Pugno, N.; Buehler, M.J. (2012). "Nonlinear material behaviour of spider silk yields robust webs" (PDF). Nature. 482 (7383): 72–76. Bibcode:2012Natur.482...72C. doi:10.1038/nature10739. PMID 22297972. S2CID 4391677.
  19. ^ Spivak, David; Giesa; Wood; Buehler (2011). "Category-theoretic analysis of hierarchical protein materials and social networks". PLOS ONE. 6 (9): e23911. arXiv:1103.2273. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...623911S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023911. PMC 3169555. PMID 21931622.
  20. ^ a b "Markus J. Buehler". Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  21. ^ Ioannidis, John P. A.; Boyack, Kevin W.; Baas, Jeroen (2020). "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators". PLOS Biology. 18 (10): e3000918. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000918. PMC 7567353. PMID 33064726.
  22. ^ "Predictive Multiscale Materials Design | Professional Education".
  23. ^ Buehler, Markus J. (2008). Atomistic modeling of materials failure. New York: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-76426-9. OCLC 288468196.
  24. ^ Cranford, Steven W. (2012). Biomateriomics. Markus J. Buehler. Dordrecht: Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-1611-7. OCLC 817540379.
  25. ^ "Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials - Journal - Elsevier".
  26. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 106 Members and 18 International Members". NAE Website. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  27. ^ "Daniel C. Drucker Medal". Retrieved December 10, 2022.

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