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headshot of Robert J. Wagner

Robert J. Wagner

Assistant Professor

Mechanical Engineering


Rob Wagner received his BS in mechanical engineering from Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.) in 2013. From 2013-17, he worked as an application engineer at GE Oil & Gas (Houston, Texas). In 2022, Wagner earned his PhD in material science and engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder as part of the Vernerey Soft Matter Mechanics Group. From 2022-23, he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cornell University in the Silberstein Mechanics for Material Design Lab. In January 2024, Wagner joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Binghamton University as an assistant professor.

Wagner’s research interests center on the complex mechanics of hierarchically structured, soft materials such as polymers/gels, biological tissues and synthetic networks. He is particularly interested in leveraging living systems as roadmaps for the development of autonomously adapting materials and structures. Such behaviors include functional morphogenesis, selective self-healing and mechanoresponsive strengthening. He believes that the fundamental mechanisms synchronously enabling these functions in living systems are:

  • The presence of “dynamic bonds” that allow living systems to internally reconfigure and globally morph.
  • Comprisal of “active” constituents that convert locally stored energy into mechanical work, which living systems use to drive local drops in entropy or travel up energy gradients.
  • Arrangement of living constituents into highly structured architectures, that orchestrate autonomous, emergent responses.

Researchers have yet to engineer these traits into structural materials with comparable efficacy to their living counterparts. As such, Wagner aims to utilize his expertise in mechanical design, soft matter/network mechanics, and multiscale computational mechanics toward predictively designing and fabricating mechanoresponsive metamaterials.

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  • BS in mechanical engineering, Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.
  • PhD in material science and engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Research Interests

  • Solid mechanics
  • Computational mechanics
  • Soft matter
  • Polymers
  • Living systems and bioinspired design

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae