Hortense Le Ferrand – Bio-inspired composites

Name: Hortense Le Ferrand

Location: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

What do you do? I am a postdoctoral fellow in a research laboratory. I have a a PhD in Materials science. I research on multifunctional bio-inspired composites. This means that biologist have looked into nature and tried to understand how it works and what it is composed from, and I try to build from their discoveries to create new materials.

This is very exciting because even in the 21st century, there are many things that nature does much better than us. For example, our knees are joints made of cartilage anchored to bone. This layer of cartilage is at the same time very wet, yet very strong and very strongly attached to the hard bone underneath. So far, despite many attempts, there is not satisfying artificial cartilage that surgeons could use to repair damaged joints.

In our lab, we study how nature builds materials by trying to understand the chemistry, the organization, and the properties. Then, we can start building new materials.

What can you see? A creature that inspires us – a violet-spotted reef lobster. There is an aquarium in a special room in the lab we keep some of the animals we are studying. It is a great opportunity to be based in Singapore where it is very easy to find such wonderful and still unstudied organisms.

When I’m not doing science I…walk around, take pictures, read, write and enjoy learning about the Asiatic culture and the diversity of this part of the world.

If you’d like to find out more about Hortense’s work you can find her on twitter @HortenseLeFerra or have a look at her professional website: hortenseleferrand.wixsite.com/hortenseleferrand