Prof. Belcher attended the University of California – Santa Barbara for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She obtained her B.S. in Creative Studies in 1991 and her PhD in Chemistry in 1997, unraveling the ways in which proteins can direct the material properties of minerals. Belcher joined the MIT faculty in 2001 as Professor in the Departments of Biological Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering.
The Belcher lab seeks to understand and harness nature’s own processes in order to design technologically important materials and devices for energy, the environment, and medicine.
Ancient organisms have evolved to make exquisite nanostructures like shells and glassy diatoms. Using directed evolution, the lab engineers organisms to grow and assemble novel hybrid organic-inorganic electronic, magnetic, and catalytic materials. In doing so, the group capitalizes on many of the wonderful properties of biology – using only non-toxic materials, employing self-repair mechanisms, self-assembling precisely and over longer ranges, adapting & evolving to become better over time. These materials have been used in applications as varied as solar cells, batteries, medical diagnostics and basic single molecule interactions related to disease.