James Weaver

James has recently joined CMB as a staff scientist.  His vast expertise in working with a broad array of marine systems and his technical savvy in various forms of hi-tech materials applications, make him an invaluable member of our educational team.

James received his Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006, where he focused his doctoral research on the study of structure-function relationships in diverse biological composites.  He has an extensive background in the field of invertebrate zoology and systematics, and has a strong history of national and international collaborations with materials scientists investigating the ultrastructural and mechanical properties of a wide range of biological materials. A greater understanding of biological production strategies at the ultrastructural and molecular levels may ultimately provide inroads into the development of novel, environmentally friendly and cost-effective design strategies for a new generation of high performance materials. Such discoveries could have enormous impact on technological fields ranging from telecommunications to semiconductors, from medicine to architecture, and beyond.

James has played a significant role in the establishment of various organisms as model systems for the study of a wide range of biomineralization processes. He has become a recognized leader in the application of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for the study of these model systems at the ultrastructural level.  He has co-authored more than 40 publications in the fields of biomineralization and biologically-inspired materials science (biomimetics), many of which have been featured on the covers of world-class scientific journals including, Science, Nature Materials, Advanced Materials, Nanotechnology, Bone, and the Journal of Structural Biology.  With more than 10 years experience in graphic design, he is also an award winning presenter and scientific poster designer.  In addition, James has more than 15 years experience in the design and construction of environmentally controlled seawater systems for the maintenance of a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate species and is the chief designer and builder of the temperate seawater facilities at CMB.

James possesses incredible enthusiasm for his work and an unwavering commitment to education and sharing the excitement of scientific discovery with his students. His dedication to inspiring our youth is evident in his 10 plus years experience as an instructor/mentor in the Biological Sciences Department at Santa Barbara City College.  James has seemingly limitless energy and an uncanny ability to infuse others with passion and curiosity for the wonders of the natural world.

Rather than just presenting biological diversity in an evolutionary context, I feel that it is equally important to discuss what can be learned from the remarkable complexities of biological systems and to teach students that likely solutions to problems can frequently be found in unlikely places. For instance, what can the isotopic composition of foram skeletons teach us about climate change? What can the mechanisms of adhesion in intertidal mussels teach us about the design of safer automobile tires? What can echinoderms teach us about human fertilization biology? What can sponges teach us about the development of fracture resistant telecommunication optical fibers? What can nematodes teach us about cancer biology? And so on. Using lessons learned from Nature to solve real world problems goes a long way toward stimulating student interest in the study and, ultimately, the preservation of global biodiversity.

Awards / Documentation

UCSB Graduate Student Wins International "Science as Art" Competition for Image of Nature's Nanoworld

SpongeBob’s cousins are masters of glass: Sea creatures use structural tools that make engineers envious

Tiny Diamonds on Santa Rosa Island Give Evidence of Cosmic Impact

Engaging Students in Science:
The 7th Annual Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Workshop

Sponges: Not Just for Cleaning Anymore:
Researchers use marine organisms for guidance in tackling engineering problems

Common Sea Sponge Points Way to New Materials

Marine Bio-Nanotechnology: High-Performance Materials from Sponge Silicatein

Selected Publications:

Miserez A., Weaver J.C., Pedersen P.B., Schneeberk T., Hanlon R.T., Kisailus D., Birkedal H. (2009). Microstructural and biochemical characterization of the nanoporous sucker rings from Dosidicus gigas. Advanced Materials, 21 (4) 401-406.

Weaver J.C., Aizenberg J., Fantner G.E., Kisailus D., Woesz A., Allen P., Fields K., Porter M.J., Zok F.W., Hansma P.K., Fratzl R., Morse D.E. (2007). Hierarchical assembly of the siliceous skeletal lattice of the hexactinellid sponge Euplectella aspergillum. Journal of Structural Biology, 158, 93-106.

Woesz A., Weaver J.C., Kazanci M., Dauphin Y., Aizenberg J., Morse D.E., Fratzl P. (2006). Micromechanical properties of biological silica in skeletons of deep-sea sponges. Journal of Materials Research, 21, 2068-2078.

Aizenberg J., Weaver J.C., Thanawala M.S., Sundar V.C., Morse D.E., Fratzl P (2005). Skeleton of Euplectella sp.: Structural hierarchy from the nanoscale to the macroscale. Science, 309, 275-278.

Kisailus D., Najarian M., Weaver J.C., Morse D.E. (2005). Functionalized gold nanoparticles mimic catalytic activity of a polysiloxane-synthesizing enzyme. Advanced Materials, 17, 1234-1239.

Stewart R.J., Weaver J.C., Morse D.E., Waite J.H. (2004). The tube cement of Phragmatopoma californica: a solid foam. Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 4727-4734.

Hassenkam T., Fantner G.E., Cutroni J.A., Weaver J.C., Morse D.E., Hansma P.K. (2004). High-resolution AFM imaging of intact and fractured trabecular bone. Bone, 35, 4-10.

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