Biography

Professional Background

Assoc. Prof. Ali Miserez earned his undergraduate (1998) and PhD (2003) in Materials Science and Engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. His final-year project was carried out on an exchange program at Northwestern University (Evanston near Chicago). For his PhD, he specialized in metallurgy and mechanics of materials, doing his research in the field of metal matrix composites and fracture mechanics. After he completed his PhD, in 2004 he obtained a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) post-doctoral fellowship to explore new horizons and he started a post-doc in the field of biological materials and biomimetics at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) notably working alongside Prof. Herbert Waite. Having the freedom of an individual fellowship allowed him to dig into the biological and biochemistry fields, with the goal to gain expertise at the frontier of Physical and Life sciences. This allowed him to expand his research towards biomimetics, bio-inspired materials, and structure / biochemistry / properties relationships of hard and soft tissues. He also took part of a program sponsored by the International Center for Materials Research (ICMR), aimed at developing research exchanges between Western and Developing countries. Under this program, he spent 3 months at theInstitut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) in Western Java, Indonesia, where he initiated a research collaboration and taught a class for the graduate curriculum. He joined the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) as an Assistant Professor in September 2009, establishing an interdisciplinary research group in the field of biological and bio-inspired materials. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) Fellowship, a $3 Million individual research grant for early career scientists. In 2016, Prof. Ali Miserez was promoted to Associate Professor with joint appointments in the Schools of MSE and Biological Sciences (SBS) at NTU.

Dr. Miserez’s current research is centered on revealing the molecular, physico-chemical, and structural principles from unique biological materials, and on translating these designs into novel biomimetic materials. His research group is strongly cross-disciplinary, with molecular biologists, chemists, structural biologists, and materials scientists combining their expertise towards bioinspired engineering from various angles, including protein biochemistry, extra-cellular tissue transcriptomic, polymer chemistry, biomimetic peptide design, biophysics, and nanomechanics. His work as a leading author has appeared in diverse journals, both of general interest and specialized fields including in Science, Nature Materials, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Chemical Biology, Advanced Materials. Biomacromolecules, ACS Nano, JBC, Polymer Chemistry, JACS, PNAS, etc. He has delivered hundreds invited talks at many international Academic Institutions as well as at international conferences such as Gordon Research Conferences in the field of bioinspired materials, biomineralization, and biointerfaces.

Personal Information

I was born and spent my childhood in the Swiss Jura Mountains in the town of “La Chaux-de-Fonds” (canton of Neuchatel), which is the heart of the Swiss watch making industry. This is also my father’s hometown, whereas my mother is Iranian-born and came to Switzerland in her early adult life. Whenever you look at your watch, it is likely that parts or whole of it (if it’s a very expensive one…) were manufactured in one of those factories. Additionally, the town always takes great pride in reminding every visitor of his famous “sons”, 20th century Architect visionary “Le Corbusier”, car-maker “J.L. Chevrolet”, or writer and adventurer “Blaise Cendrars”.

Ever since my undergraduate times, I have enjoyed exploring all corners of this planet and done so by all sort of means. In fact, this inherent curiosity was a major factor in my decision to pursue the academic path, and in taking part of exchange programs that could combine those interests. Over the years, I have, among others, backpacked the high Atlas mountains of Morocco, explored the Pangalanes Canal of Madagascar on a dugout canoe, hiked down the Colca Canyon in Peru (it is 2-times deeper than the Grand Canyon and the deepest canyon in the world), bicycled for a month across the Western African nation of Cameroon, or traveled in the far East corner of the Indonesian Archipelago, following a childhood filmmaker friend on his documentary endeavor (great work, go here to check it out!). Beside the natural beauty of those places, it is without any doubt the many encounters with people from all sort of social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds that have sparked my interest in these travels.

I moved to Singapore in September 2009, trying to explore South East Asia whenever I can find some (limited) free time. Being able to take a full month to explore a country at the adequate pace is largely a luxury of my past and incompatible with the Academic life. Nevertheless, there are multitude of destinations just a short flight away from Changi, whether it being exploration of the Malaysian countryside by bicycle or the amazing scuba-diving opportunities of the Indo-Pacific.

I have many and diverse interests, probably too many to be listed without boring whoever would have reached this page. Suffice to say that I’m a news junkie of world affairs, enjoy contemporary literature, or an avid music nerd, from indie rock to folk, to world and electronic music (unfortunately, the music scene in Singapore is rather poor, although it’s gaining some momentum). I almost forgot to mention that ever since my childhood I’ve been an ice hockey fanatic, playing for 20 years in my native country until I moved to the US. In Singapore, I have been playing recreational ice hockey managed by the Singapore Ice Hockey Association (SIHA), winning with my teams the Div 2 title in the 2018/19 season and the Singapore Lion’s cup (recreational division) in 2020. Legs are getting old but passion for the sport is intact!

Read more about my passion for science in the MSE Innovators Vol. 3 Interview I gave for NTU.