Abdon Pena-Francesch

Assistant Professor


Arriving January 2021




Ph.D., Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University, 2017
M.Sc., Chemical Engineering, Institut Químic de Sarrià (Barcelona, Spain), 2013
B.Sc., Mechanical Engineering, Institut Químic de Sarrià (Barcelona, Spain), 2011


Our research is centered around biomaterials science, polymer chemistry, soft matter physics, and nanotechnology, with focus on exploring biology to develop advanced and programmable soft materials for robotic applications in healthcare, bioengineering, and environmental science. We are driven by engineering at the molecular, nano-, and microscale to program the materials structure and properties, and to encode advanced functionalities. We are building an interdisciplinary and collaborative research group with focus on both fundamental and applied research (including materials design, synthesis, characterization, modeling, and engineering applications).


2018-2020 Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow)


Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation), 2018 - 2020
Alumni Association Dissertation Award, Distinguished Doctoral Scholar Medal (Penn State University), 2017
NIST Center for Neutron Research Summer School Travel Award (NIST), 2017
Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award (Penn State University), 2016
Penn State Inventor Incentive Award (Penn State University), 2016
Graduate Student Award. Materials Research Society (MRS), 2016
American Conference on Neutron Scattering Travel Award (ACNS), 2016
First prize award at Engineering Science and Mechanics Graduate Research Symposium (Penn State University), 2015
Sabih and Güler Hayek Graduate Scholarship (Penn State University) 2014 – 2017
NSF Fellow, International Summer School on Biocomplexity. (Boğaziçi University), 2014
P. Salvador Gil Award to Best Master Thesis (Institut Químic de Sarrià), 2013
AGAUR MOBINT Fellowship (Government of Catalunya), 2012