Robert Full

Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA, United States

About Robert


Professor Robert Joseph Full
Director, Center for interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research (CiBER)
University of California at Berkeley
Department of Integrative Biology, Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 642-9896

Dr. Robert J. Full, Chancellor’s and Goldman Professor of Integrative Biology and Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory and the Center for Bio-inspiration in Education and Research, University of California Berkeley. Professor Full completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY Buffalo in 1979. He also did his graduate work at SUNY Buffalo, receiving a master's degree in 1982 and a doctoral degree in 1984. He held a research and teaching post doctoral position at The University of Chicago from 1984 to 1986. In 1986 he joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley as an Assistant Professor of Zoology. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Integrative Biology in 1991, and to Full Professor of Integrative Biology in 1995, a position he holds today.
In his 23 years at Berkeley, Professor Robert J. Full has led a focused international effort to demonstrate the value of integrative biology and biological inspiration. He has been instrumental in the formation of 14 interdisciplinary collaborations and 5 new design teams composed of biologists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists from academia and industry. In 1990 he received a Presidential Young Investigator Award. In 1995 he was selected to present his research to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1997 Professor Full became a Chancellor's Professor at Berkeley.
In 1996 Professor Robert J. Full was given Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award for his efforts involving undergraduate research. In 1998 Professor Full received a Goldman Professorship in Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. Professor Full has mentored over 130 undergraduate researchers who have received more than 50 awards/fellowships. An undergraduate from his laboratory has won one or both of the most distinguished awards in Integrative Biology at Berkeley 12 times. Over 40 undergraduates research presentations have been given at national and international meetings. 25 journals articles & 6 proceedings have been published with at least one undergraduate author, along with over 60 abstracts. Professor Full has redesigned his courses using an interdisciplinary, research-based approach. He has participated in the National Academy of Sciences Summer Institute that is training the next generation of research faculty. For these efforts, he was named Mentor in the Life Sciences by the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor Full directs the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory, which studies the Performance, Energetics and Dynamics of Animal Locomotion (PEDAL) in many-footed creatures (Poly). His research program in comparative physiology and biomechanics has shown how examining a diversity of animals can lead to the discovery of general principles of locomotion. His programmatic theme is Diversity Enables Discovery. Professor Full has led an effort to demonstrate the value of integrative biology and biological inspiration by the formation of interdisciplinary collaborations of biologists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists from academia and industry. His fundamental discoveries in animal locomotion have inspired the design of novel neural control circuits, artificial muscles, eight autonomous legged robots and the first self-cleaning dry adhesive (UC Patent for dry adhesive named one of top ten nanotechnology patents in 2007). Professor Full has authored over two hundred contributions and has delivered over three hundred national and international presentations. To further his efforts, Professor Full has created a new center at Berkeley called CiBER, the Center for Interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research focused on training the next generation of scientists and engineers to collaborate in mutually beneficial relationships.

TED Conferences

TED2014, TED2009, TED2005

Areas of Expertise

Biology, Biomimetics, Biomechanics, Locomotion, Mobile Robots, Gecko-inspired Adhesion, Research-based Education

An idea worth spreading

Biomutualisms - Associations between biology and other disciplines (such as engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, mathematics) where each discipline reciprocally advances the other so that the collective discoveries that emerge are beyond any single field. The cycle of discovery and innovation combines Biological Inspiration (using principles and analogies from biology when advantageous and integrating them with best human engineering to make something better than nature - as opposed to the blind copying often associated with Biomimetics) and Engineering-based Biology that benefits from using approaches, devices and physical models to generate new hypotheses and allow novel measurements in biology.

I'm passionate about

Curiosity-based Research, Research-based Education, Diversity Enabling Discovery, Bio-Motion

Talk to me about

Biological Inspiration, Research-based Education, Biomechanics, Mobile Robots, Gecko-inspired Adhesives