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Dr. Huajian Gao

Huajian Gao portrait

Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering
School of Engineering
Brown University


Huajian Gao studies the basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviors of materials in both engineering and biology and is known for his micromechanics research. He studies how metallic and semiconductor materials behave in thin-film and nanocrystalline forms and how biological materials achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy.

Gao earned his bachelor’s degree in solid mechanics from China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University in 1982, followed by a master’s degree in 1984 and a doctorate in 1988, both in engineering science, from Harvard University.

In 1988, he joined Stanford University as an assistant professor and was promoted to professor in 2000. In 2002, Gao joined the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Germany as its director. He returned to the United States in 2006 as a professor at Brown University and from 2012 to 2014 directed Brown’s Materials Research and Engineering Center.

Currently, he is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering at Brown University, where he affiliates with the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. He also serves as principal investigator for the Gao Research Group at Brown.

Gao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Geophysical Union, and the Materials Research Society. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Institute of Physics in Great Britain.

Gao has received the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s George Wallace Melville Medal, Robert Henry Thurston Lecture Award, and Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award; the Max Planck Society’s Research Innovation Award; the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award; the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics’ Rodney Hill Prize in Solid Mechanics; and the Society of Engineering Science’s William Prager Medal.

Gao has held honorary professorial appointments with the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research and with China’s Shanghai Jiaotong University. In addition, he has held visiting professorships at several national and international universities, including Tsinghua University in Beijing, China; Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China; Xi’an Jiaotong University in China; Northwestern University; the University of Hong Kong; Stanford University; the University of Heidelberg in Germany; the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research of Singapore; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the University of Cambridge in England; and others. In 2012, Gao, cofounded the Center for Advanced Mechanics and Materials at Tsinghua University.

He has published more than 380 papers in peer-reviewed publications, attracting more than 23,000 citations, as well as five books.

As a Faculty Fellow in the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study, Gao will collaborate with faculty–researchers in the College of Engineering. 

Dr. Huajian Gao