New Staff Profile: Scientia Fellow, Dr Kristopher Kilian

27 March 2018

New staff member Kristopher Kilian joins us as Scientia Fellow with a joint appointment across the School of Materials Science and Engineering and the School of Chemistry. Kris’s research group explores how natural and synthetic materials influence the signalling that controls cell fate and function. Combining both “soft” and “hard” materials chemistry with nano- and micro-fabrication techniques, they specialise in designing and developing synthetic tissue models to more accurately explore cell signalling and tissue assembly across numerous physiological and pathological conditions including development and cancer.


“Understanding how cells in our body interface with materials is critical for fundamental medical research and for developing new functional materials aimed to improve human health” says Kilian. “Students of materials science are trained to deeply appreciate structure-function relationships; this makes them uniquely poised to tackle problems in biomaterials science and engineering”

In addition to research, Kris is interested in new approaches to interdisciplinary education, with plans to improve student engagement and learning in materials chemistry and biomaterials science.


Kris received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Washington in 1999 and 2003 respectively. He worked for Merck Research Labs in the Methods Development group from 2000-2004 before travelling to Sydney to do his PhD with Justin Gooding in Chemistry at UNSW. He was a NIH postdoctoral fellow in  the laboratory of Milan Mrksich  at the University of Chicago (2008-2010) before joining the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as Assistant Professor (2011-2016) and later as Associate Professor (2017) in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Department of Bioengineering. He is a 2008 recipient of the Cornforth Medal from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, a 2009 recipient of the Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, a 2015 recipient of the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and a 2017 Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering from the Biomedical Engineering Society.