Materials Research Laboratory, University of California
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Helen Hansma came to UCSB in 1972 and to the Physics Department in 1988. She has a B.A. in Chemistry from Earlham College, M.A. in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley, and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from UCSB. Her previous research areas range from the chemistry of zinc-azine coordination compounds to the ionic mechanisms for membrane excitation in Paramecium. This diversity has served her well in her present research on new applications for atomic force microscopy (AFM), ranging from teflon films to biomaterials, including lipid films and synaptic vesicles, DNA and DNA-protein interactions, laminin and other macromolecules of the basement membrane, and bacterial biofilms. Two of her current research interests are high-throughput AFM and 'force spectroscopy' AFM of spider-silk molecules, which are nature's 'bio-steel.' Her other professional activities include several invited talks each year and service for NSF, NIH and NASA.