Robert Joseph Full

Robert J. Full is a Chancellor’s and Goldman Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He has led a focused international effort to demonstrate the value of integrative biology and biological inspiration by the formation of interdisciplinary collaborations of biologists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists from academia and industry. Professor Full is founder and director of CiBER, the Center for interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research focused on discovering fundamental principles of biology that inspire novel engineering and where engineers provide biologists with new hypotheses, approaches and techniques. Professor Full is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, and the Principal Investigator on an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship on Bio- and Bio-inspired Motion Systems Operating in Complex Environments that is training the next generation of biologists and engineers to collaborate in mutually beneficial relationships. Professor Full directs the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory, which studies the Performance, Energetics and Dynamics of Animal Locomotion (PEDAL) in many-footed creatures (Poly) such as cockroaches, crabs, and lizards. His research program in comparative physiology and biomechanics has shown how examining a diversity of animals can lead to the discovery of general principles. His fundamental discoveries in animal locomotion have inspired the design of novel neural control circuits, artificial muscles, autonomous legged search-and-rescue robots and the first, synthetic self-cleaning dry adhesive inspired by his discovery on how geckos stick. Professor Full received a Presidential Young Investigator Award, was named a Mentor in the Life Sciences by the National Academy of Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His interests range from analyzing the pitching motion of a Hall of Fame baseball player to assisting computer animators making children’s movies (Pixar/Disney Bug’s Life).


Ph.D. State University of New York at Buffalo 1984
M.A. State University of New York at Buffalo 1982
B.A. State University of New York at Buffalo 1979

Professional Positions

Goldman Professor University of California, Berkeley 1999 – 2001
Chancellor’s Professor University of California, Berkeley 1996 – 1999 
 University of California, Berkeley 1995 – present 
Associate Professor
 University of California, Berkeley 1991 – 1995 
Assistant Professor
 University of California, Berkeley 1986 – 1991 
Post doctoral Lectureship
 The University of Chicago, 1984 – 1986 
NSF Research Assistant
 S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, Summers 1979 – 1984 
Teaching Assistant
 S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, 1979 – 1984

Honors and/or Awards

California Academy of Sciences Fellow
Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) top 100 speaker (30th Anniversary, Vancouver, Canada)
American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow (Nov)
National Academy of Sciences Mentor in the Life Sciences
Goldman Professorship – U.C. Berkeley
Chancellor’s Professorship – U.C. Berkeley
Distinguished Teaching Award – U.C. Berkeley
Friday Evening Lecturer – MBL, Woods Hole
G.W. Thorn Award – Distinguished Alumni, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo
National Academy of Sciences Invited Speaker – Annual Meeting 1995
Frontiers of Science Speaker – National Academy of Sciences
Invited Scholar – Oklahoma Scholars Leadership Enhancement Program
Presidential Young Investigator Award, NSF
COCOS Foundation Lecturer, Duke University
Master’s Scholar Award, Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools
Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Students, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo Sigma Xi, Willard B. Elliot Award – Outstanding Research Accomplishments
Scholarship, Duke University Marine Laboratory
Graduate Fellow, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo
Phi Beta Kappa, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo
Summa Cum Laude, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior Award – Biology, S.U.N.Y Buffalo
Phi Eta Sigma – Honor Society, S.U.N.Y Buffalo

Selected Publications

  • Dickinson, M.H. Farley, C.T., Full, R.J., Koehl, M. A. R., Kram, R., and Lehman, S. 2000. How animals move: An integrative view. Science. 288, 100-106.
  • Schwenk, K., D. K. Padilla, G. S. Bakken and R. J. Full. 2009. Grand challenges in organismal biology. Journal of Comparative and Integrative Biology. 49(1):7-14; doi:10.1093/icb/icp034
  • Full, R.J. and  Koditschek, D. E. 1999. Templates and anchors – Neuromechanical hypotheses of legged locomotion on land.  J. exp Bio. 202, 3325-3332.
  • Holmes, P., Full, R.J., Koditschek, D. and Guckenheimer, J. 2006. Dynamics of legged locomotion: Models, analyses, and challenges. SIAM Review (SIREV) 48 (2), 207-304.
  • Full. R.J. 2000. Biological inspiration: Lessons from many-legged locomotors. In: Robotics Research Ninth International Symposium. J. (eds. Hollerbach and D. Koditschek), Springer-Verlag London, pp. 337-341.
Animal Biomechanics
  • Libby, T., T. Moore, E. Chang-Siu, D. Li, D. Cohen, A. Jusufi and R. J. Full. 2012. Tail assisted pitch control in lizards, robots and dinosaurs. Nature. 481, 181–184. doi:10.1038/nature10710.
  • Jusufi, A., D. I. Goldman, S. Revzen, and R. J. Full. 2008. Active tails enhance arboreal acrobatics in geckos. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 105, 4215–4219.
  • Huffard, C.L., Boneka, F. and R. J. Full. 2005. Underwater bipedal locomotion by octopuses in disguise. Science, Vol. 307, Issue 5717, 1927.
  • Full, R.J., Earls K., Wong, M. A., Caldwell, R.L. 1993. Locomotion like a wheel?  Nature. 365: 495.
  • Herreid II, C.F., D.A. Prawel and R. J. Full. 1981. Energetics of running cockroaches. Science212: 331-333.
Gecko Adhesion
  • Autumn, K., Liang, Y., Hsieh, T, Zesch, W., Chan, W.-P., T. Kenny, Fearing, R., and Full, R.J. 2000. Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair. Nature. 405,681-685.
  • Autumn, K., Sitti, M., Liang, Y.A., Peattie, A.M., Hansen, W.R., Sponberg, S., Kenny, T., Fearing, R., Israelachvili, J.N. & Full, R.J. 2002. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 99 (19), 12252-12256.
  • Peattie, A.M. and R.J. Full. 2007. Phylogenetic analysis of the scaling of wet and dry biological fibrillar adhesives. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 104, 18595-18600.
  • Altendorfer, A., N. Moore, H. Komsuoglu, M. Buehler, H.B. Brown Jr., D. McMordie, U. Saranli, R. Full, D.E. Koditschek. 2001 “RHex: A Biologically Inspired Hexapod Runner,” Autonomous Robots.11, 207-213.
  • Spenko, M.J., G. C. Haynes, J. A. Saunders, M. R. Cutkosky, A. A. Rizzi, R. J. Full, D. E. Koditschek. 2008. Biologically Inspired Climbing with a Hexapedal Robot. Journal of Field Robotics. Volume 25, Issue 4-5, 223-242.
  • Cham, J.G., Bailey, S.A., Clark, J.E., Full, R.J. and Cutkosky, M.R2002. Fast and robust: hexapedal robots via shape deposition manufacturing. Int. Journal of Robotics Research. 21(10-11): 869-882.
Artificial Muscle
  • Kornbluh, R., Full, R.J., Meijer, K., Pelrine, R. and S.V. Shastri. 2002. Engineering a muscle: an approach to artificial muscle based on field-activated electroactive polymers  In: Neurotechnology for Biomimetic Robots. (eds. J. Ayers, J. L. Davis, A. Rudolph) MIT Press. pp. 137-172.

In the Media

  • Really? Robots. Book Chapters on “Explorer bots” and “Nature’s secrets” by Susan Hayes. Scholastic Press. For 7-12 year old children. 2015
  • Washington Post. “Leaping lizards and the power of interdisciplinary collaboration.” by Emi Kolawole.  2012
  • Action Magazine, Scholastic publication for low-level reading middle schoolers. Robots inspired by nature. 2011
  • Cal Parents Magazine. Letters Home. Undergrad researchers push the knowledge envelope. 2011
  • National Geographic. Biomimetics: Design by Nature by Tom Mueller. 2008
  • California Magazine. “Back to nature: The latest inventions are inspired by the world around us.” Nov/Dec by Vicki Haddock.  2008
  • Book, “The Gecko’s Foot – Bio-inspiration: Engineering New Materials from Nature” by Peter Forbes. W. W. Norton & Company: 288 pages. 2006
  • Wired Magazine. Featured in article “Why 6-Legged Bots Rule,” by Tom McNichol.         2002
  • Metropolis Magazine. Featured in article “Bioninspiration: Take design cues from the natural world,” by Martin C. Pedersen.   2002
  • Book, “Evolution of a New Species: Robo sapiens.” Featured in robotics book by Menzel, P. and D”Aluisio, F. Cambridge. MIT Press. p. 90-101. Presents interviews on the inspiration in the design of four mobile robots using principles from nature. 2000
  • International Design Magazine. “Secrets of Motion.” Sept/Oct. by Chee Pearlman. 1997
  • Discover Magazine. “See How They Run.” September by Carl Zimmer. 1994

Science (AAAS Journal) and ScienceNOW (AAAS On-line)

  • Cockroaches and Geckos ‘Vanish’ With Amazing Acrobatics. 2012
  • Tails Guided Leaping Dinosaurs to a Safe Landing. 2012
  • Racing Crash-Happy Cockroaches. Science Meeting Briefs. 327, 776 2010
  • One Tail, Many Feats. 2008
  • Crab’s Downfall Reveals a Hole in Biomechanics Studies. 315, 325 2007
  • Scurrying Roaches Outwit Without Their Brains. 307, 346-347 2005
  • Cockroach Stability. 297, 1643 2002
  • Biology Reveals New Ways to Hold on Tight. 296, 250-251 2002
  • How geckos stick on der Waals. 2002
  • It’s Not Easy to Derail a Roach. 2002
  • Geckos Climb by the Hairs of Their Toes. 288, 1717-1718 2000
  • Better Than Nature Made It. 288, 5463 2000
  • In Nature, Animals That Stop And Start Win The Race. 288: 83-85 2000

Nature (Journal) and (On-line)

  • Leaping lizards! Jurassic Park got it right. Velociraptor adjusted the angle of its tail to stay stable when jumping by Charlotte Stoddart. 2012
  • News and Views. “Biomechanics: Leaping lizards and dinosaurs.” by R. McNeill Alexander. 2012
  • Ninja Geckos (with video). 2008
  • Evidence for van der Waals Adhesion in Gecko Setae. 2002
  • Biomechanics: Gripping Feat. 405, 631 2000

NY Times (Newspaper and On-line)

  • Now You See It, Now It’s Swung Out of Sight.” by Sindya N. Bhanoo. 2012
  • When a Sticky Gecko Starts to Slip, Its Tail Comes to the Rescue. 2008
  • They’re Robots? Those Beasts! 2004
  • The TED Conference: 3 Days in the Future. 2002
  • Design Debut: Trade Secrets of the 6-Legged Set. 2002
  • Engineers Ask Nature for Design Advice. 2001
  • Pitter-patter of hairy feet. 2000