Angela Belcher’s lab focuses on understanding how biology makes materials and engineers biology to synthesize new nanomaterial with improved properties using environmentally compatible approaches. Her research spans applications of lithium-ion batteries, lithium oxygen batteries, sodium ion batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, environmental bio-remediation, electrocatalysis, photocatalysis, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, carbon dioxide capture and storage, quantum transport and the development of new materials to filter and neutralize toxic chemicals including chemical warfare agents. In addition, she develops new nanomaterial and optical systems to detect tiny tumors with an emphasis on ovarian cancer. Belcher was born in Galveston County, Texas and grew up in San Antonio. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a degree in creative studies with a focus on biology. She then earned her PhD in inorganic chemistry also from UCSB. In 2002 she joined the faculty at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and currently is Department Head of the Biological Engineering Department at MIT. She has a great interest in PK-12 education. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineers, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Research Interests

Angela Belcher's laboratory's interest focuses at interfaces, which includes the interfaces of scientific disciplines as well as the interfaces of materials. In her group at MIT, they are using nature as a guide to make novel electronic and magnetic materials and to pattern materials on nano length scales. To accomplish this, Belcher's group is integrating approaches from several scientific disciplines including materials chemistry, inorganic synthesis, surface chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry and electrical engineering. They are adapting the conditions and control mechanisms found in nature to non-biological inorganic materials such as magnetic and semiconductor materials. Belcher and her students have pioneered a very novel self-organizational approach that utilizes evolutionarily selected and engineered peptides to specifically recognize and bind electronic and magnetic building blocks. The goal is to have a DNA sequence that codes for the synthesis and assembly of any inorganic material or device. They have been successful in using these evolutionarily selected peptides to control physical properties of nanocrystals and subsequently use molecular recognition and self-assembly to design biological hybrid multidimensional materials. They are using this technology to design new methods for building batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, catalysts, CO2 capture, environmental remediation, and cancer diagnostics and treatment.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 14: Chemistry