Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Postdoctoral Fellow

Alexandre Ponomarenko
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Alexandre Ponomarenko is currently a postdoctoral fellow working jointly with Noel Holbrook in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Shmuel Rubinstein at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University. Alexandre earned a doctoral degree in Fluid Mechanics from University Paris 6, followed by a postdoctoral appointment at the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, where he carried out interdisciplinary research on applications of fluid and fracture mechanics in plants. At the Harvard MRSEC, Alexandre studies the mechanical properties of fiber-reinforced hydrogels in both living and artificial channel networks. A major focus on his research in IRG 1 is to understand how gas propagates within the water transport system of trees. He has shown that hydrogels occurring naturally in plants play an important role in resisting embolism spread due to drought. He is currently developing a microfluidic device that uses fiber-reinforced gels to control gas percolation.

Alexandre has presented his work at numerous MRSEC IRG meetings and given soundbites at many of the New England Complex Fluids workshops. He has also served a mentor for students, including high-school student Evan Zeng, now an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University (Above: Alexandre Ponomarenko (left) and Harvard Ph.D. student Jessica Gersony (right) collecting xylem samples from the top of a red oak tree at the Harvard Forest.)